Sanctions not responsible for our suffering in Zim

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

For the past 20 years, we the people of Zimbabwe have endured untold economic and political suffering — unprecedented ever since we attained independence from British colonial rule in 1980 — characterised by the shortage of nearly everything that sustains human life — ranging from foreign currency, our own local currency, fuel, vital medications in our public hospitals, books in our schools, and prices of basic commodities that keep skyrocketing on a daily basis, out of the reach of the majority.

Understandably, various sections of our nation have proffered varied reasons for this unbearable existence — with the government and its allies blaming so-called Western-imposed sanctions, saboteurs and even transitional austerity measures, while the opposition and a large section of the population have placed the blame squarely on the government’s doorstep — citing gross economic incompetence, corruption, political instability and human right abuses.

Of late, however, the Zimbabwe government has been emboldened in its case by the unquestioned support and lifeline it has received from the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) and African Union (AU), who have embarked on an “anti-sanctions” drive — taking the message to the recently held United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York – culminating in planned solidarity demonstrations throughout regional countries on October 25, 2019.

Needless to say, Zimbabwe authorities are on the proverbial “Cloud Nine” as they have found willing allies in their crusade in defending their economic and political performance over the past 40 years.

However, before anyone starts printing Remove Zimbabwe Sanctions T-shirts, we need to take a sober and indepth analysis of these sanctions, as well as exactly what impact they have had on our daily lives as Zimbabweans.

Precisely, how have these sanctions caused untold suffering?Firstly, the question that everyone in the Sadc and AU would be asking is: “What led to the imposition of these sanctions, in the first place?”

After the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in September 1999 — in the wake of the genesis of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis — the Zanu PF government went into panic mode, especially after losing a referendum in its 2000 bid to introduce a new Constitution. With critical parliamentary elections slated in only a few months, the ruling party could see imminent defeat, and thus, embarked on a very violent land reform programme — in which, scores of white commercial farmers and their workers were brutally murdered and forcibly kicked off the land.

This violent campaign was touted as a programme to “correct historical imbalances”, in which a very few white commercial farmers owned vast tracts of land, while the majority of indigenous people were crowded in infertile communal areas. However, this turned out to be nothing more than a well-calculated move to cut off perceived funding from white farmers to the MDC, as well as a means to intimidate any opposition supporters. Furthermore, the land reform programme ended up benefiting only a few party bigwigs with the best multiple farms, and token resettlement of party faithfuls.

Although Zanu PF narrowly won the 2000 parliamentary elections, the brutal crackdown on the opposition intensified barely two years later, with the advent of the presidential election pitting the now late President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and MDC’s Morgan Richard Tsvangirai — which were largely regarded as having been rigged in favour of the former.

This period was characterised by widespread intimidation of opposition supporters, with the climax being the beating up of perceived opponents, burning of their homes, and reported killings.

This is when the so-called sanctions were imposed by Western countries, mainly the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US).
These sanctions were largely travel bans and the freezing of any overseas investments for a targeted group of senior Zanu PF and government officials, and their interests — and had absolutely nothing to do with the ordinary people.

However, despite these seemingly punitive measures, Zanu PF atrocities reached boiling point after the 2008 harmonised elections, in which Tsvangirai narrowly beat Mugabe in the first round — though, officially failing to attain an outright majority to declare him the winner.

The subsequent wave of violence was unparallelled ever since the 1980s genocidal massacre of over 20 000 innocent men, women and children in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

This ultimately led to Tsvangirai pulling out of the run-off presidential elections, in protest at the violence — culminating in the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) spearheaded by Sadc through South African former President Thabo Mbeki.

In fact, over the preceding years, although human rights abuses continued unabated — targeted sanctions, especially by the EU were substantially watered down — subsequently leaving only Mugabe and his wife Grace — such that, currently, due to Mugabe’s recent death, there are virtually no EU sanctions to talk about.

That is where we find ourselves today. What sanctions are the Zimbabwe government, Sadc and the AU making so much noise about? The only sanctions left are those imposed by the US — the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) — which were imposed only on 141 entities and senior officials in the Zimbabwe administration largely over violation of human rights, and economic mismanagement.

So, why would Sadc and the AU stand in solidarity with Harare in calling for the lifting of these targeted measures? Have the conditions that invited the sanctions been addressed?

Ever since the 2017 military intervention that toppled Mugabe, ushering in his long-time protégé President Emmerson Mnangagwa, both the human rights and economic record of this once envy of the African continent, has turned it into a shameful image of what being an African means.

As much as Mnangagwa’s so-called “new dispensation” came into the fray with loud proclamations of the respect for human rights and “heaven on earth” economic growth, the situation on the ground over the past two years has been anything, but rosy.

The 2018 post-election period was greeted by the gunning down of at least six unarmed people during protests in Harare, which the subsequently established commission of inquiry led by former South Africa President Kgalema Motlanthe concluded that security forces — deployed to quell these disturbances — were responsible, and that the culprits should be held accountable.

Zimbabwean authorities have done nothing in that regard.Thereafter, in January 2019, more people were reportedly shot and killed during violent fuel price hike protests in the country’s major cities with allegations rife of further intimidation, brutalisation and rape of innocent citizens in their residential areas by suspected State agents.

Again, no one was held responsible with only the alleged violent protestors being brought to book.Furthermore, this year alone, there have been more than 50 reported cases of abductions of opposition, civil society and labour activists with no one being prosecuted for these crimes.

The opposition MDC was barred by the police from conducting any marches or demonstrations throughout the country from their initial intended gathering in August 2019.

10 Comments

  1. Tendai Ruben Mbofana, you sound like a traitor.

    1. Masinire Tafadzwa

      what a waste for my time. why did you take forever to explain why the sanctions were imposed but did not even bother to tell us the effects of the so called zidera. we all know why zimbabwe has sanctions and its not human rights abuse in broad (its whites rights abuse). if it was about human rights, where were they during gukurahundi??. please editor dont waste our time with suggestive topics. the article did not even came close to addressing what sanctions actually do to us as zimbabweans.

  2. Thank you Mr Mbofana with the enlightening!

  3. YOUR STORY IS ABSOLUTELY MISGUIDED IF NOT TRYING TO MISGUIDE.

    WHY DO YOU LEAVE out the behaviour of the British govt in your story of REASONS FOR SANCTIONS THRU land reform—-who refused to HONOUR THE LANCASTER HOUSE AGREEMENT. of compensating white farmers when taking land after 15 yrs from the date of independence.?

    you justify sanctions because they affect zanu pf and 114 entities—— WHICH ENTITIES ARE THESE AND TO WHAT EXTENT ARE THESE entities affected AFFECT ORDINARY LIVES OF ZIMBABWEANS ?. cz you cant say THAT if RBZ AND FINANCIAL INSTITUITIONS, BASIC GOODS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS, SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS FAIL, ORDINARY LIVES ARE NOT AFFECTED….IT WILL BE MISGUIDED TO SAY THAT.

    YOU FAIL TO ADDRESS THAT EVEN IF THESE SANCTIONS ARE SAID TO BE TARGETED, THEY ARE APPARENTLY NOT. THEY ARE UNDECLARED SANCTIONS AFFECTING INNOCENT PEOPLE— A CLEAR STORY FOR THIS IS FROM MORGEN TSVANGIRAI JUNIOR.
    IT IS APPARENT THAT THE MDC IS NOT A PARTY BUT A WESTERN PROJECT EVIDENCED BY FAKE ABDUCTIONS SO AS TO GET MONEYSOME SPONSORSHIP IN PURSUING THE INTERESTS OF THE WEST.

    YOUR STORY IS SO BIASED IT DOESNT ADDRESS THE ROWDY BEHAVIOUR OF MDC WHO CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN FORBIDDEN TO DEMONSTRATE WHILE THEIR INTENTION WAS NEVER TO DEMONSTRATE PEACEFULLY BUT TO CAUSE ANARCHY ,DESTROY PROPERTY OF ORDINARY BUSINESSES, DESTRUCTING NON DEMONSTRATORS MOVEMENT AND DAILY BUSINESS…..RIGHT IS A RIGHT IF IT DOESNT AFFECT OTHERS RIGHTS!!!!!! AND IT IS PEOPLE’S RIGHTS TO BE PROTECTED BY THE STATE.

    THESE SANCTIONS SIMPLY AFFECTS ORDINARY LIVES THEY SHOULD BE CONDEMNED ..WE DONT HAVE TO EXONERATE ZANU PF IN CORRUPTION AND SOME MISMGT, BUT SAY LETS FIGHT BOTH THE CORRUPTION ,MISMGT AND FOREIGN IMPERIALIST IMPOSED,ILLEGAL RUINOUS SANCTIONS…

  4. I agree with the writer 100%. ED is paying millions to some PR companies based in Europe and USA, AirZim recently bought a plane from USA how was that possible if Zim is under sanctions. Europe and USA spend millions annually supporting humanitarian services in Zim were it not of their support AIDS would have ravaged the nation by now, how is that possible if Zim is under sanctions. Millions are now fed-up with this sanctions scapegoating

  5. What sanctions are responsible for the missing 15 billion from Chiadzwa, millions from Zinara and billions from Command Agriculture, rotting donated food in Chimanimani, collapse of Air Zim, NRZ, Zupco, Zisco, Hwange, Shabanie and lots more that we don’t know? That, my dear countymen and women, are the real sanctions imposed on Zimbabweans – by fellow Zimbabweans!!

  6. We have imposed sanctions on ourselves through greed corruption and arrogance from the rulers who are not leaders. What a shame. Chidzwa, gold right now, money laundering by zanupf bigwigs… list endless

  7. HAVE YOU HEARD OF ZIDERA-THE US BILL THAT PUTS PUNITIVE RESTRICTIVE SUNCTIONS ON ZIMBABWE. DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON ZIDERA AND YOU WILL KNOW THAT MEANINGFUL INVESTMENT IN ZIMBABWE IS NOT THERE BECAUSE OF ZIDERA. MONEY DESTINED FOR ZIMBABWE IS CAPTURED IN NEW YORK BECAUSE OF ZIDERA.
    YES CORRUPTION AND UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT MADE IT WORSE FOR US AND ITS NOT AN EXCUSE, WE SHOULD GET RID OF CORRUPTION AND UNPROFESIONAL PEOPLE IN OUR MIDST.

  8. I find it very interesting that the writer mentioned that zimbabwe has experinced all these problems for the past 20 years while Mdc is also 20 years old!! Is this just a mere coincidence? I doubt it very much. America has always been like that. Subotaging those nations who refuse to abide by their imperial machinations through sponsorship of thugish, destructive and destractive oppositions but I am very impressed that this time they have found their match in the form of China lead by the the genius, calm , prudent and calculative Xi Jinping. They are sponsoring their thugs in chinese Hong Kong in an effort to thawt the internationalisation of the yuan but that is proving to be shear waste of time. They have also been trying the tariff way but that is even hurting them worse than China and the only reasonable thing for Donald John Trump to do is to accept the bare fact that the world now has a new economic and financial boss. Our government can even do well to try to benefit from this development.

  9. Very stupid article written by one who is not in business and clearly needs an education.
    It is appreciated that journalists are paid $2500 for an anti-government article that can take say 15v minutes to write, possible the highest paid job in the country, called economic sabotage, but there is a need for some responsibility it is not the publics fault that parents did not teach some journalists integrity and honesty.

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