By Elijah Chihota
The United States does not want to leave Zimbabwe alone and has upped its game by using designation of persons as a way of forcing the ZANU PF government to capitulate. In a strange development, the US has stopped specifying companies on the sanction list, but is rather now focusing on individuals. The targeted individuals are those that they view to be making the country to go forward. Thus, the US wants to stall Zimbabwe’s economic growth and create a fertile ground for revolts.
Last week on Wednesday, US Senators Jim Risch, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Chris Coons wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo asking for adding of more people on the sanctions list. It looks these Senators think they are doing a good job to pile pressure on Zimbabwe. In actual fact they are bringing misery to the Zimbabwean population and for Zimbabwe it’s not a crime to reclaim its land from former colonisers.
“Given the developments in Zimbabwe over the last two years, we urge you to consider enhancing the tools at your disposal, including the use of targeted sanctions, to incentivise changes in behaviour by the government of Zimbabwe. An update to the list of the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list should incorporate a balance of new designations with appropriate removals,” said the senators. Their plea simply shows that they want to see an increase in the suffering of people.
On 25 October 2019, when SADC and the African Union were marching for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe, the US responded by placing Minister of State for National Security, Honourable Owen Ncube on the sanctions list. What was his crime? The US alleged that he was responsible for human rights abuses emanating from the January 2019 demonstrations. As usual the US was wicked in its judgement. In actual fact it was Minister Ncube who realised that the demonstrations had the backing of Americans and were using social media platforms to communicate and organise the demonstrations and he ordered the closing of internet. This decision threw the US plan into disarray, hence the imposition of sanctions on him alone on that particular day which coincided with anti-sanctions demonstration.
As if celebrating the 1 August 2018 disturbances which rocked Harare at the behest of the MDC, the US State Department added Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Tanzania, Major General (Rtd) Anselem Sanyatwe to the sanctions list. Ambassador Sanyatwe was punished for pre-empting the US shenanigans as the third hand behind the August 2018 post election violence after the MDC realised that they had lost the election and their horse Nelson Chamisa lost the race and was rejected by the electorate.
The US has for a long time been targeting the Zimbabwe economy. First they announced that Zimbabwe was not a safe tourist destination and thousands of tourists shunned the country. Secondly, a number of Zimbabwe companies were also put on the sanctions list such as Agribank, ZB Bank and Zimbabwe Fertilizer Company, among others in a bid to cripple agriculture which is the mainstay of the economy. Former US assistant secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker to the US Senate said “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.”
What Crocker was suggesting was that they want to make the Zimbabwean economy dysfunctional so that everything grinds to a halt. In so doing, the US wants to push the citizens into a tight corner and squeeze them until they have no breathing space so that they would revolt against the ruling party and Government.
As Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) Chairperson, Dr Tafataona Mahoso puts it, “There is a campaign of what I call ‘economic terrorism’ against Zimbabwe mounted by Britain and its Western allies”. This is not a new strategy by the US given that former US president, Richard Nixon, once instructed US spy agencies to “make the economy of Chile scream”.
The US boasts that it extended financial assistance to Zimbabwe amounting to US$3 billion since independence. Therefore, this means that for 40 years the US gave Zimbabwe US$75 million per year, honestly this is just a drop in the ocean considering the size of Zimbabwe’s economy and infrastructural needs.
“Zimbabwe does not qualify for new lending considerations because it has failed to make necessary political and economic reforms that would allow International Financial Institutions (IFIs) boards to consider it for debt relief and new leasing,” screamed the US. What the US is saying that Zimbabwe has failed to institute political and economic reforms, but who benefits from these reforms and measured by whose yardstick?
In reality, the reforms that the US is calling for especially, political ones are tantamount to regime change. These are the same reforms that the late MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai was pushing for through the security sector reforms. Tsvangirai’s script was obviously authored in the US and was meant to separate ZANU PF from the liberation war veterans who form the backbone of the liberation party.
On the economic reforms, the US wants the repossessed and re-distributed land to be returned to white former commercial farmers through the auspices of property rights. What the US should ask itself is how did those farmers obtained that land in the first place? The answer is not far from Capitol Hill because one of their Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney had this to say over the issue “To any honest observer, Zimbabwe’s sin is that it has taken the position to right a wrong, whose resolution has been too long overdue – to return its land to its people. The Zimbabwean government has said that a situation where 2% of the population owns 85% of the best land is untenable. Those who presently own more than one farm will no longer be able to do so”.
Unashamed, the US declared that “the sanctions list is a living document”. To those who claimed that sanctions did not exist, but were targeted measures they can now get it from the horse’s mouth. The true meaning of this statement by the US government is that they still want to see Zimbabwe buckling under the effects of the sanctions until what they want is achieved.
As we are speaking today, Zimbabweans are very unsettled because of the latest wave of designation which is pending. This act will cow down people and they will be afraid to carry out their Constitutional mandate thinking the US would target them and become candidates for the sanctions list.