By Innocent Mujeri
The US Assistant Secretary of State on African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, was recently quoted saying that the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West are targeted against certain individuals and corporations and not against the country of Zimbabwe.
He further insinuated that sanctions could not stop US businesses from investing in Zimbabwe. By saying this, Nagy showed that he is a hypocrite who only wants to mislead the World into believing that sanctions have no effect on the people of Zimbabwe. Nagy is forgetting that a number of Government officials and over 50 local companies or organisations are under sanctions.
Nagy has forgotten the words of the former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Chester Crocker who said that “to separate the people of Zimbabwe from ZANU PF, you have to make the (Zimbabwean) economy scream.” It is crystal clear that sanctions are not targeted as said by others but are meant to make the Zimbabwean economy “scream” and if the economy “screams,” it is the ordinary person who suffers.
If the sanctions were targeted as falsely insinuated by the US and its allies, then they missed their targets as it is the ordinary people of Zimbabwe who have suffered the most. Sanctions have affected a granny in Dotito as she can no longer find standard healthcare services. Sanctions have affected a child in Kezi as he can no longer get standard education. The truth is that the so called ‘targeted sanctions’ imposed on Zimbabwe targeting a few individuals and a few companies are not even affecting those people and the few corporates, but are piling more misery on the ordinary citizens especially women, youths and children at large.
Over the years, the US and its allies have been defending the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe as a way of arm-twisting the Government of Zimbabwe to respect human rights, curb corruption and come up with legal reforms including those that make elections free and fair. Interestingly, countries that imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe have some of the most appalling records when it comes to human rights and the rule of law. I will not mention the killing of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement agents in the US and the deliberate policies that encourage continued discrimination of people of colour.
The foolish argument that sanctions against Zimbabwe are targeted has been used by those who seek to justify their continued imposition as they are a means to an end. But the truth about sanctions has been said by President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the second anniversary of the SADC Anti Sanctions Day when he said that “the cumulative effect of these illegal sanctions has been devastating in every sector of our economy.” President Mnangagwa further said that “sanctions are a blunt coercive instrument with far reaching implications on the ordinary people”. President Mnangagwa correctly described sanctions as “indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction which is being deceitfully presented to the world as targeted.”
Yes sanctions are just like the nuclear and napalm bombs. They are meant to kill a large number of people. What also remains as a stubborn fact is that the most affected are the ordinary Zimbabwean citizens whom those imposing the sanctions ostensibly “seek to protect.” Currently Zimbabwe is not a member of the Commonwealth and there are many economic and business opportunities that are being missed. Because of the illegal sanctions, the ease of doing business with other countries has evaporated for any young or ordinary Zimbabwean because there are restrictions. It is known that many American Financial institutions cannot do business with the ordinary citizens who are not even on the sanctions list because the country is under sanctions.
Zimbabwean lawyer Petina Gappah once posted on Twitter that in 2015, she discovered that Zimbabwean artists had been excluded from taking part in the Financial Times Oppenheimer Fund Emerging Voices Award. After an inquiry, she was informed that due to sanctions against Zimbabwe, it would not be possible to pay a winner from Zimbabwe. This was so because the awards’ bank was HSBC, which was not allowed to transact in Zimbabwe.
Some years ago, a young Zimbabwean technology entrepreneur, Takunda Chingonzo, informed former US President Barack Obama that the ‘targeted’ sanctions were hurting ordinary Zimbabweans. He told Obama that young business persons like him were failing to access funding and technology because of the sanctions, which did not target politicians in ZANU PF, but all Zimbabweans. This therefore means that if the sanctions were targeted as America wants us to believe, then they missed their targets as the missiles of sanctions have landed on ordinary Zimbabweans.
We have continued to see ill packaged propaganda messages by the West and their proxies who want to maintain the false narative that sanctions are only meant for targeted individuals yet this is not true. It has to be known that the country is under two sets of sanctions. There are sanctions that are “targeted” at Government officials and other individuals and economic sanctions, particularly the Zimbabwean Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) which was enacted in 2001 by the US.
What these sanctions have done is tantamount to stripping off human dignity, enjoyment of basic rights by women, children, the youths and every ordinary Zimbabwean, while those perceived to be targeted by the sanctions have no or little scars of these sanctions. If countries that have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe really care about the lives of the ordinary Zimbabweans, they should soberly reflect on whether sanctions are good for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe or they are causing suffering to the locals. My plea is that the West should remove all forms of sanctions on the country and allow the Government of President Mnangagwa to start on a clean slate and to make sure they measure its own performance without the prejudice of the sins of the previous administration.
Instead of applying a blanket regime of sanctions on the people of Zimbabwe, what is needed is for those who imposed sanctions to have an engagement with the new Zimbabwean Government on a fresh slate. It’s clear that the current regime of sanctions have killed many people and brought the Zimbabwean economy to its knees, hence they must be removed. If the West has a bone to chew with Zimbabwe, they can do so without endangering the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans by imposing economic sanctions.
It is high time all Zimbabweans know that they are the targets of the illegal sanctions. Again it’s high time we all say no to the illegal sanctions as they have robbed us of our lives and that of the next generation.