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Sanctions against Zim must go! But how?

Opinion & Analysis
I want the sanctions lifted like yesterday, but I realise this would entrench a culture of impunity. Those responsible for the heinous human rights abuses during the violent land grab debacle and the bloody presidential elections of 2008 and each violent election thereafter must be held accountable still.

THE issue of sanctions against Zimbabwe causes a level of cognitive dissonance in my mind. I fully understand why they were imposed in the first place, but I am also firmly persuaded that they are hurting the economy and the common person in general. 

I want the sanctions lifted like yesterday, but I realise this would entrench a culture of impunity. Those responsible for the heinous human rights abuses during the violent land grab debacle and the bloody presidential elections of 2008 and each violent election thereafter must be held accountable still.

The sanctions are a slap on the wrist for those who have killed, maimed and presided over this corrupt and repressive political environment. And yet the victims of repression and abuse continue to receive the short end of the stick.

It has become clear that the hardliners in Zanu PF and the military actually profit from the continued sanctions. How else does one explain their impudence to do the needful for sanctions to be lifted and their stubbornness in continuing to behave in the same manner that attracted sanctions?

Sanctions have created an opaque environment that is conducive to high levels of corruption and misdemeanour. The truth is the hardliners in Zanu PF and the military would struggle to survive in a normal, competitive and transparent political and economic environment.

And yet an environment without sanctions is ideal for more freedom to the citizens, increased local and foreign investment and relative prosperity. The majority of the citizens and the economy suffer, while those politically-connected to Zanu PF make a fortune under cover of the sanctions.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and those around him routinely embark on the disingenuous anti-sanctions campaign, while doing nothing to remove the offences that triggered the restrictions. The anti-sanctions campaign is a charade by those guilty of corruption and human rights abuses who want to be left alone to repeat the same.

Two weeks ago, the White House announced it was terminating the 2003 Zimbabwe sanctions and replacing them with the Global Magnitsky sanctions programme, which “are part of a stronger, more targeted sanctions policy”.

The US said it wanted “to make clear that the behaviour of some of the most powerful people and companies in Zimbabwe matches the actions of the worst human rights abusers and corrupt actors globally.”

Three companies and 11 individuals, who include Mnangagwa, his wife Auxilia and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga were added to the list of designated people. The Americans continue with the pretence that “sanctions on these individuals and entities do not represent sanctions on Zimbabwe or its public”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001, which imposed sanctions on Harare, remains in the US statutes and that has broad implications on Zimbabwe’s economy. Financing to the economy is heavily constrained because of the banking sector’s inability to access correspondent partners or the cost of funds once these facilities are secured.

E-commerce for Zimbabwean companies, start-ups and individuals is limited once geotagging identifies your location. Zidera and the new measures entrench the stigma and morass of Zimbabwe being a sanctioned country.

But there is a way out of the sanctions imbroglio.

The US says it wants “Zimbabwe to move towards more open and democratic governance, including addressing corruption and protecting human rights, so all Zimbabweans can prosper.”  This is exactly what every progressive and peace-loving Zimbabwean wants.

The only people opposed to this are in the ruling party, the military and some in opposition, who campaigned for the imposition of the sanctions to begin with.

Surely, Zanu PF and Mnangangwa’s government need not be told to do the right things for Zimbabwe to prosper. Transparent, free and fair elections are what those who genuinely love Zimbabwe want.

Zero tolerance to corruption, respect for human rights and accountability are all in our Constitution. Only those intent on clinging to power and pillaging our resources will see regime change in more democracy, ending corruption and a culture of human rights.

Surely, there must be a consensus by now that sanctions, targeted or not are a blunt instrument, which is hurting mostly the innocent. The Zanu PF elite must realise its political longevity and security thereafter, can only be guaranteed by peace, stability and prosperity.

Thus, it must be in their long-term interest to be proactive in removing the offending matters.

The Americans are playing prefect because we lack local and continental institutions to hold wayward politicians to account. Our politicians see us as subjects rather than citizens.

It is in our collective interest for the sanctions to go. This, however, does not mean giving a carte blanche to the Zanu PF elite to loot and curtail the rights of citizens.

The Southern African Development Community’s endorsement of the Zanu PF anti-sanctions charade is unhelpful and so is the American pretence that the so-called targeted sanctions are not hurting the poor people.

Zanu PF must remove its suffocating sanctions against the majority and then engage in extensive diplomacy and statesmanship to remove the US imposed albatross around our collective necks.

  • Trevor Ncube is the Chairman of Alpha Media Holdings and the host of In Conversation With Trevor YouTube.com//InConversationWithTrevor

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