By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
AS the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan winds up her visit to Zimbabwe, I wonder what real incontrovertible evidence she has managed to garner on how the so-called “economic sanctions” have crippled the country.
Of course, I am not excited about her visit, as I honestly do not need someone who has been in the country for a mere 10 days to prove or otherwise what I have known and experienced for 20 years.
However, I am convinced that she could have had better luck had her mission been probing what was the actual cause of Zimbabwe’s near-economic collapse — not solely limiting her mission to these restrictive measures on few individuals and entities by Western nations.
As a Zimbabwean, who has also endured unimaginable suffering over the past two decades just as the majority of fellow citizens, understanding the root cause of our problems is most welcome.
No normal person enjoys poverty, pain and suffering unless one is a psychopath — and, we want all this burden placed on us to be removed.
Yet, we will not fight an imaginary enemy, which is a mere creation of those who are the true authors of our profound misery, in order to hide the truth.
If anything, a person like myself — who has no political alignments or ambitions, and tries his best to have an open mind — only wants the truth and, any such truth has to be based on concrete and substantiated evidence, which is beyond reasonable doubt.
What we have been subjected to by the Zimbabwe administration, and its sycophants, have been allegations after allegations, based predominantly on nothing more than circumstantial evidence which, in a normal court of law, would seldom lead to a conviction.
I, on the other hand, need proof — solid, verifiable proof — of which, I will readily embrace and work with.
If, indeed, it had been proven that economic sanctions were the root cause of our suffering, that there was absolutely nothing else the government could have done to avert or circumvent the effects and impact of such measures, and that the current economic challenges were unavoidable — then, as promised many times before, I would not hesitate to join the anti-sanctions crusade.
Nonetheless, as the situation stands today, those propagating this “economic sanctions” narrative have dismally and shamefully failed to articulate their case for an entire 20 years.
I was intently reading a report in the State-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper, and I honestly tried to follow what the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi had as “proof” of these sanctions — apparently, what the government intends to hand over to the UN special rapporteur.
To say I was extremely disappointed is a gross understatement — as I expected more from a lawyer, who is expected to be aware of the need to prove one’s case beyond any reasonable doubt.
He wasted an entire opportunity to sell his case to the audience, by ranting on and on about the “signs and symptoms” of these alleged sanctions — without much in the way of explaining how exactly these supposed sanctions caused these problems.
What point is there in merely listing the economic challenges being faced in Zimbabwe — such as low foreign direct investment, infrastructural gaps, non-delivery of police vehicles in 1998, deterioration of water and sanitation infrastructure, surge in unemployment and emigration to other countries, as well as decline in the horticulture and manufacturing sectors?
Any Zimbabwean could have told Douhan that — but, where is the indisputable proof that all these problems were caused by “economic sanctions”?
I am sure that is what she flew all this way to find out.
If you wake up in the morning, only to discover that some of your property is missing, and you proceed to accuse someone who visited your home the previous day — when asked for evidence to support your accusations, it would be utterly ridiculous and disingenuous to merely go on to list the goods that are missing, and call that “evidence”!
It certainly does not work that way!
However, I am convinced that should Douhan want to, there is more than enough documented evidence of widespread wanton corruption — touching very high offices in the country.
Should she be interested, she could get hold of the Auditor-General’s reports for the past several years — which expose the billions of dollars that have not been accounted for (with no one ever being brought to book), touching nearly every sector of the Zimbabwean economy.
Douhan would be able to learn why the country could not meet its electricity requirements (as millions of dollars have been squandered by the power utility executives to finance their lavish lifestyles), more dollars earmarked for COVID-19 simply vanishing into thin air, our roads authority procuring equipment worth millions that was either never delivered or was unsuitable for the stated purpose, and so many more revelations.
Douhan could also have a look at the Pandora Papers, and see just how much in supposed diamond earnings were hidden in offshore accounts — by people linked to high offices — never making it into the country’s coffers.
She can also look into a Daily Maverick report published in February this year, exposing how cartels had captured the State — as well as, other reports explaining how tenders have been scandalously awarded to benefit friends and families of the ruling elite, and the underhand turning of public enterprises into private property.
If I were to repeat what is contained in all these credible reports, then I would need to write a whole book.
Nonetheless, as Douhan completes her tour — whatever it was supposed to accomplish — I am sure she has nothing in terms of incontrovertible evidence on these supposed “economic sanctions”.
However, most certainly, she will be able to get plenty on the shamelessly unrestrained corruption and looting, that has been the real cause of our pain and suffering.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator