By Gift Mashoko
The United States of America (USA) renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe last week. The renewal of these illegal restrictions year in year out since 2001 bespeak of self-centredness and arrogance the US has, in regards to the southern African country borne out of frustration of not achieving their faltering regime change agenda for these past two decades.
The United States continues to maintain sanctions, citing a lack of progress in democratic and human rights reforms as well as restrictions on press freedoms in Zimbabwe when everyone know this is just a red herring, the bigger picture is the removal of a Zanu PF-led government.
The myth of targeted sanctions
The fallacy of these illegal sanctions is that the US has been shouting on rooftop that they are targeted and they do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans, nothing can be further from the truth. The effects of these sanctions has impinged on the very human rights the US has been alleging the Zimbabwean government of abusing.
All Zimbabwe have a right to Social Security, which among things include “the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old”.
All Zimbabweans have a right to Food and Shelter for all and education. All these have been compromised by the debilitating effects of the 20 year old sanctions.
The US claims to be a champion of human rights but these have been denied Zimbabweans since the inception of the illegal sanctions. The illegal sanctions have destroyed our socio-economic systems that some youths who were born in 2000 are now calling themselves a “lost generation” as some have been denied education, some employment, some shelter and even food.
The US claims that the sanctions largely target those who engage in corruption, violate human rights and undermine the democratic institutions or process. The US is arguing that targeted sanctions do not prohibit trade between the US and Zimbabwe and that Zidera and targeted sanctions are different, the US has never invoked Zidera. If that is the case, why has The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which is a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy been blocking financial transactions of some companies in the country, to the extent that many millions of dollars have been paid as fines by those whose fraught these prohibitions.
Contrary to these statements by the US, the sanctions have actually wreaked havoc on the country’s economy. Several government officials and companies are оn the sanctions list, like the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which is State-owned enterprise.
IDC has interests in many Zimbabwean companies such as Olivine, Sable Chemicals and Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, which means all these critical companies’ operations are also hamstrung.
Resultantly the Standard Chartered bank had to order IDC to close its accounts with the bank because of the sanctions. It has been estimated by economists that Zimbabwe State enterprises account for 14% of the country’s GDP and this makes them а key component of the economy. In its 2013 election manifesto dubbed “Taking back the Economy: Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment” ZANU PF quantified the loss of business due to sanctions as at US$42 billion and that was 7 years ago to date that figure has obviously increased.
Notwithstanding that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to revive the economy may amount to nothing if the country is blocked from accessing global markets and lines of credit as has been the case.
Threat to US foreign policy
Zimbabwe is no threat to anyone, lest of all to a superpower like the United States. Rather Zimbabwe is a small third world country endowed with lots of mineral resources, which is trying to get by, in trying to uplift the lives of its people and is targeting to achieve a middle income status by 2030.
One wonders what threat Zimbabwe is said to pose on foreign policy of the US, when they are the ones restricting Zimbabwe to even trade because of the sanctions. Foreign policy consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations.
Zimbabwe has never interfered with any country’s foreign policies lest of all the US, but its correct to say the reverse is true. The land redistribution that the country embarked on that sparked the tiff between the US and Zimbabwe is justified and is an internal affair and we offer no apologies for that.
Reforms vs regime change
The US has been talking of Zimbabwe having to work on its reforms of which Zimbabwe is already engaged in working on these reforms. The US has no business pushing the country to implement reforms, the country already knows what it needs to do to improve its lot. So as to be clear, the reform agenda is for Zimbabweans and has nothing to do with the US. President Mnangagwa said as much when he was quoted saying “We are not reforming to appease the nations of the world, but because reform is necessary to build the future our people desire. Of course, there is still much work to do, but we are heading in the right direction" The changes in the reforms cannot happen overnight, as the US want, it is a process.
What is clear for all to see is that the US is hiding behind a finger; no amount of reforms is going to appease them as long as there is a ZANU PF government in power. They want the malleable opposition in power so they can do whatever they want with the country and its resources.
What every Zimbabwe wants to understand is; of these reforms the US is pushing for, for whose benefit are they meant for. Hence, the US should get off our back, we are a sovereign nation, we won’t take kindly to being dictated to.
AU and SADC lobbying
The African Union (AU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) are pushing for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe. The removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe will discourage the mass emigration of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries, which has also negatively affected the economies of our neighbours.
Tanzanian President Magufuli, called for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe to pave way for socio-economic transformation. He also said Zimbabwe, under President Mnangagwa, had opened a "new chapter" that is why the sanctions had to be removed.
"These sanctions have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their government but the entire region. It is like a human body, when you chop one of its part it affects the whole body," he said.
If the US is sincere in the affairs of Zimbabwe, it should take heed from the African organisations like SADC and AU which are more versed with the goings-on in the southern African country and remove the evil sanctions.
Sanctions will never bring the regime change that the American government is pursuing, this has failed in the past two decades and it won’t happen in the near future despite the challenges her people have suffered. Word of advice, the US should take the EU route of engagement as the block realised that sanctions DON’T work.