Time Zim dropped sanctions mantra

Learnmore Zuze

In the wide world of motivational speaking there is a general concept of inspiration that is held in high esteem and has been handed down from generation to generation of transformational writers and teachers. The concept is so developed that whole books have been written about it and careers launched out of it.

It’s the concept pertaining to excuses. An excuse is a justification, a defence that absolves one from guilt. An excuse may be genuine or false, but its common feature is that it gives one a reason to accept their circumstances. It is an explanation designed to alleviate guilt. It justifies why things stand in a certain way. Excuses, it must be emphasised, may be genuine and properly found. For example, some people grow up in deprived backgrounds, while some are born in areas where there are no schools. Others cannot simply get the necessary exposure to make a breakthrough in life. Such people hang on to excuses and present them to the world with the result that people pity them and express sympathy. They parade their justifications why they can’t do or be certain things and launch into an orgy of self-pity.

Now, the only little trouble with excuses, as they say in motivational speaking, is that they leave you in exactly the same situation you were in before. They do not make you any better and worse, they guide you down the road of degeneration and mediocrity. Brilliant cricketers, footballers, academics and musicians are probably sweeping the streets instead of pursuing their purpose all because of excuses, we are taught.

Book vending along Chinhoyi Street.

There are no heroes made out of excuses and there is no progress in excuses. Even more fatal is that when one uses the crutch of excuses, it is a unique type of crutch because while it may appear to aid, in the end it does more harm. It aggravates the depth of your lameness. It lulls you and preserves you into the hall of mediocrity.

This concept rings 10 times true for the Zimbabwean situation. It is common knowledge that Zimbabweans are suffering. Millions are unemployed. Families can’t afford decent meals and millions have left the country. Businesses simply can’t hold up. The Zimbabwean crisis is there for all to see. Now, it is not so much about the crisis as it should be about the solution. It is not so much about whether sanctions exist or not as it is about focusing on turn around economic strategies. There seems to be a real obsession with sanctions. Rot in parastatals, drop in tourism, corporate malfeasance and collapse of health care among many other undesirables have all been attributed to sanctions.

This, as motivational speakers would say, can only pile our misery. Sanctions have become the ugly veil covering failure and incompetence. At an economic forum held last week in Avondale, it was really disheartening to hear and see so many fixations with obstacles: so much focus on reasons why things cannot work instead of focusing on a single reason why things must work. Zimbabweans are desperate to get out of the economic rut they find themselves in. Sanctions have given our leadership reasons to justify mediocrity.

Honestly, the sanctions debate is sure to ignite fireworks each time it explodes. In fact it has done so for the past decade and a half now. From the days of the late MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe to this very day it continues to rage on with strong opposing camps. Others attribute the collapse of the economy to the sanctions while others point to years of misrule. Now, if there is one thing that we all can learn from the sanctions debate is this: it does not help the suffering nation of Zimbabwe an inch. It has done nothing to give jobs to millions. It has not helped create industry; it has not attracted investment and does not restore our health system, which is itself lying in comatose.

Excuses never turned anyone into a hero. It is surely high time we rise above this sanctions mantra. Zimbabwe needs a way out of the economic crisis not justifications. The trouble with excuses in the form of sanctions is that it makes it appear normal for thousands of graduates to be sitting idle at home. It justifies government’s failure to develop infrastructure, build roads and ensure access to basic rights like water and food. It makes people think it normal to sit under the scorching sun to receive two litres of cooking oil and a few bars of soap. In a functional economy, everyone should be able to work for their livelihood without waiting to be given hand-outs.

Decrying sanctions day in and day out will not build an iota of the economy. It is critical that progressive Zimbabweans, whether the sanctions be real or perceived should focus and make efforts towards building a better Zimbabwe where adults have dignity and where basic rights are guaranteed.

The present situation is tragic. No one will ever be a hero for lucidly and logically proving that we are hungry because of sanctions. Let’s change the focus. There is no heroism in excuses.

lLearnmore Zuze is a legal researcher, author and media analyst. He writes here in his own capacity. E-mail:lastawa77@gmail.com


  1. Brilliant piece of thought.Rhodesia was slapped with punitive economic sanctions and arms embargo by the United Nations after declaration of UDI,she had no look east policy, in fact had only Vorster ruled South Africa and Caetano ruled Portugal to engage with. Ian Smith build a lot of industries for import substitution,no shortages of commodities were ever experienced.The irony of it is that all the industries built during Smith rule are now at their knees.Therefore,to attribute economic meltdown to sanctions,is inexcusable.

    • The Smith regime received support from the West because of the cold war, when those of us fighting against the regime were labelled communists. Learnmore needs to learn more about how the sanctions against Rhodesia were breached by the West. Smith`s support was not only coming from Portugal and S Africa governments then. Besides the sanctions , our land takeover coincided with climatic changes , that have challenged the new farmers. A propaganda slanted attack on Zimbabweans based on half baked research is by no means plausible.

  2. CORRUPTION – self imposed sanctions, all buttressed in Zim-ASSET novel of the “look east policy” when LOOTING.

  3. Some people say sanctions are a feeble excuse for the country’s economic mess. Others say sanctions are a brick wall the nation cannot blast a hole through or scale.

    The solution is this cases as in any other similar case is for people to taken time off and learn more about the reasons given by both sides of the argument and then make their own judgment on the matter. Those who have said the sanction have stop the country getting the external funding it requires, for example, are clearly lying because the IMF, WB and other foreign donors stopped all loans to Zimbabwe in 2000 because the country was not paying its debts. The West imposed sanction in 2002; two years after the credit lines had been cut showing that blaming sanctions was just a feeble excuse.

    After 15 years of blaming the country’s economic woes on sanctions it is clear that those who accepted the excuse are to blame because by now they should have been familiar with the facts not to be so easily fooled.

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