ON March 4 this year, United States President Donald Trump’s administration extended sanctions on Zimbabwe by yet another year to March 2020 because, in its wisdom or lack of it thereof, the country is still a rogue nation due to its perceived draconian restrictions on media freedom and peaceful protests.
In extending the sanctions regime, Trump said: “The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.
I am continuing for (one) year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13288.”
It then perplexes us when, given this clear resolution by the US, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government decides to pump out US$1,5 million of the country’s scarce foreign currency resources to try and entice Trump’s administration into “liking” the Zanu PF administration.
This is one of the countless absurdities that many Zimbabweans are failing to understand, let alone come to terms with. There are now two companies that Mnangagwa has hired to try and wriggle out of the sanctions web after government hired Avenue Strategies Global LLC for US$1 080 000, about a month after splurging another US$500 000 on yet another American consultancy firm, Ballard Partners.
What boggles the mind is government’s apparent incapacity to understand what they are supposed to do regarding the sanctions issue.
The US and its allies have, for nearly two decades, demanded that rulers of this southern African country should simply observe the rule of law and respect human and property rights. Period!
How, in God’s name, does Mnangagwa hope to persuade the US and its allies to remove the sanctions via the backdoor? Why is it that those administering the “new dispensation” are finding it so difficult to simply observe the rule of law and respect human and property rights?
The decision to continue hiring people to spruce up the country’s image has, in our view, exposed the country’s rulers’ insincerity to respecting the tenets of democracy. And the decision to pump out all that money at a time the civil service workforce is wallowing in abject poverty is crudely brazen, to say the least.
“For the services rendered by the contractor (Avenue Strategies Global LLC) as required by this agreement, the client (Zimbabwe government) will provide compensation (the ‘compensation’) to the contractor of $90 000 per month, to be paid every three months.
A deposit of $270 000 (the “deposit”) will be payable by the client simultaneously with the execution and delivery hereof a signed agreement and every three months after,” reads part of the agreement signed between Avenue Strategies Global LLC and the Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministry.
With the interbank rate at ZWL5,88 to the US dollar, as of yesterday, that monthly consultancy bill plus deposit amounts to ZWL$2,1 million. The figure shoots to ZWL$3,2 million on the parallel market. How many civil servants would have been enabled to put a little more on their table, we wonder? It is very sad that government appears to be misplacing its priorities at every turn, thereby wasting precious foreign currency in the process.