Echoes: CONWAY TUTANI
ONE thing for sure is that Zimbabwe is not short of real original thinking to counter the West’s capture of some Zimbabwean minds.
Because of donor funding, too many politicians (naturally more so in the opposition), economists and others who are expected to be professional, are regurgitating this blatant statement of lies issued by the United States embassy in Harare last week: “The US does not maintain comprehensive sanctions against Zimbabwe. Suggestions that the US intends to harm the Zimbabwean people with sanctions are false and misleading. US targeted sanctions list 84 individuals and 56 entities. People of Zimbabwe: 16 million plus. Sanctions do not target the people of Zimbabwe. US targets sanctions on those who engage in corruption, violate human rights or undermine democratic institutions, not the people of Zimbabwe.”
Well, the true nature and purpose of the sanctions was outlined by then US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker during Senate hearings on the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act on June 13, 2000 before it was made into law in 2002. Crocker said then: “To separate the Zimbabwean people from Zanu PF, we are going to have to make their economy scream, and I hope, you senators, have the stomach for what you have to do. So if we were to decide to try and work for change in power in Zimbabwe, I would hope that we would have the wisdom to be discreet, to be low-key, and to avoid giving those in power there the excuse that foreigners are out to get them.” The cat has been out of the bag since then. On the surface, the US lies about the lifting of sanctions being based on political and economic reform, while behind the scenes it is all about regime change.
Ever since, Zimbabwe’s economy has been “screaming”, as maliciously intended by the US, sparing no one from the top to the bottom, dispelling the lies by the US embassy. Individuals not on the so-called targeted sanctions list have their tales to tell.
A colleague, Charles Rukuni, one of the most respected independent Zimbabwean journalists out there, recounted his personal deprivation because of sanctions: “I have tried for years to convince Zimbabweans that the US sanctions do not only apply to politicians because I was denied a contract in Malawi when the beneficiaries recommended me for an in-house training programme simply because I was from Zimbabwe. This happened some years ago, prior to June 2009 before I left the Financial Gazette.”
This week a person who is vociferously pro-sanctions had a taste of his own medicine or, as they say in Shona, “akarumwa nechekuchera”, as sanctions came home to roost. When this sanctions zealot tried to register with Paypal, an American company operating a worldwide online payments system, he was plainly told that this was out of bounds for any Zimbabwean whether they oppose their government or not. Every act has unintended consequences. You can be caught in the same trap you set. This individual’s anti-government stance was not enough for the US to exempt him from the sanctions. He is as much collateral damage as you and me. As one Zimbabwean, Edson Mabibi, observed: “Gullible people who cannot separate party politics and national interests deserve such a wake-up call.” Chipped in Simbarashe Manhanga: “Some people cannot see what is in front of them. All they do is being used politically, supporting things that actually disadvantage them.”
Are those hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans — who have been queuing for months and weeks at Western Union and branches of other money transfer firms to collect remitted money and failing — on the targeted sanctions list? Not at all. It’s because of the nefarious and contagion effect of the sanctions, as this is playing according to Crocker’s regime change script. How many people with chronic illnesses like diabetes could have died because of this sick charade by the Americans? Well, one Rejoice Ngwenya, in the vociferous style of our PayPal compatriot, won’t hear of that. He fumed, rudely saying: “Iwe (Hey you), Tutani, talk about the causes, not symptoms of sanctions.” Incredibly, he reduces that possible loss of lives to a mere “symptom” of sanctions. Well, unwitting levity goes together with lack of understanding. One cannot say the death of all 157 people aboard an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane this week was a mere symptom of mechanical or software failure by Boeing, the manufacturer of the plane. After the event, you cannot talk of symptom, but consequence. The law of levity should not be allowed to supersede the law of gravity — the gravity of the situation.
The same with fuel queues. Wherever and whenever one sees a fuel queue, they should also see sanctions. There is a direct causal — not casual — link. Yes, some people will find that most hard to digest because this completely destroys the political diet they have been fed all along offloading all the blame on the government, but with time they will see the light. It might be traumatic, it might be worse than drinking poison, it might be a hard pill to swallow; it might sound like a substitute who is brought in and immediately scores an own goal. But although it shakes the foundation of one’s political beliefs, it should not take them the 359 years (from 1633 to 1992) it took for the Roman Catholic Church to finally admit that Galileo was correct in saying that the Earth moves around the Sun, not vice-versa. Dogma — whether religious or political — holds back the nation.
To get the whole picture, American economist, Professor Michael Hudson, one of the most respected independent economists in the world who is currently with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, lays out how the world should respond to the rapaciousness of the US where it imposes itself to extract maximum benefit.
Referring to Venezuela, which is under a political and economic siege by the US, Hudson says: “An alternative also is needed to the World Bank that would make loans in domestic currency, above all to subsidise investment in domestic food production so as to protect the economy against foreign food-sanctions — the equivalent of a military siege to force a military surrender by imposing famine conditions.” Who does not see that the US is using this scorched earth policy in Venezuela and Zimbabwe?
Indeed, the world cannot just fold hands and watch while the US trashes anything and everything in its path. That has to be countered.
Hudson: “This hostage-taking [of (Venezuela’s) gold and other assets] now makes it urgent for other countries to develop a viable alternative, especially as the world de-dollarises and a gold-exchange standard remains the only way of constraining the (US) . . .” Any worse vampire than that?
Hudson points out: “Just as US policy (in the 1970s) under (then Secretary of State Henry) Kissinger was to make Chile’s ‘economy scream’, so the US is following the same path against Venezuela.” That word “scream” goes a long way back, eh, with Crocker using it against Zimbabwe?
Now, it’s like Hudson is talking about Zimbabwe’s current plight: “. . . no country should be obliged to pay foreign debt in a currency (such as the dollar or its satellites) whose (US) banking system acts to prevent payment.” The US is making impossible demands on Zimbabwe by, on the one hand, insisting on repayment of loans in US dollars, and, on the other hand, closing all US dollar transactions involving Zimbabwe in the global financial system.
Even Americans like Hudson see the gross injustice of this, but you have one Zimbabwean frivolously dwelling on what he/she calls symptoms.
Talk of captured minds!
Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org