On Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) is hosting meetings in The Netherlands with Zimbabwean Ministers Welshman Ncube (Industry and Commerce) and Mr Elton Mangoma (Economic Planning and Investment).
The Ministers will discuss the possibility of receiving support for democratic reforms and the reconstruction of Zimbabwe with Dutch politicians and aid agencies. They will also meet with the Dutch Minister for International Cooperation, Mr Bert Koenders.
The new government of Zimbabwe poses a difficult dilemma for the international community. It does not speak in one voice. It includes president Robert Mugabe and his faithful in the government and the military, who defend the status quo. And it consists of former opposition leaders now in government, including Mr Ncube (member of MDC-Mutumbara) and Mr Mangoma (MDC-Tsvangirai), who are committed to democratic reforms and the reconstruction of Zimbabwe.
The international community wants to see genuine reforms before it resumes aid to Zimbabwe. But should we therefore not precisely support reformers working within the government and society at large? The current 'smart sanctions' target those government officials responsible for the abuse of state power in Zimbabwe. Shouldn't we also think of providing 'smart support' for government officials responsible for providing the essential services, such as food, health and education, and those who press for the restoration of democratic rights, a revised constitution, and new elections.
On Friday 24 April Mr Ncube and Mr Mangoma will discuss these crucial issues with representatives of political parties, international cooperation agencies and foreign affairs officials at the NIMD office in The Hague.
On Saturday 25 April, the ministers are guests at the Africa Day, an annual public event, where they participate in a discussion organized by NIMD with Dewa Mavhinga of the London-based Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, and a panel of Dutch politicians, including Henk Jan Ormel, Member of Parliament for the Christen Democratic Party (CDA) and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Comittee, and the President of the Social Democratic Party (PvdA) Ms Lilliane Ploumen.