The Sunday News
Vincent Gono, Features Editor
A CROSS-SECTION of the country’s population still believes the political falsehood meant to deodorise sanctions as targeted at certain individuals and specific corporations.
The happenings on the ground however, radically indicate that the measures are meant to exert pressure on the economy of Zimbabwe and bring about regime change through the suffering of the people.
Political analysts content that the sanctions have outlived their objectives and have failed to effect regime change hence the collective call to have them lifted.
Great Zimbabwe University political communication lecturer who is also a political analyst Dr Last Alfandika said it was simply the height of ignorance to say sanctions were targeted. He argued that those who say so were suffering from serious political amnesia.
In his submissions, he said, it needed no genius to understand that sanctions were real and were not affecting those purported to be ‘‘targeted’’ only as has been argued in some circles.
Sanctions, he said, cut across the entire economic spectrum, isolating the country and making doing business with the international community not only difficult but impossible.
Sanctions have seen European Union (EU) member states pulling out of partnerships with Zimbabwe in a number of economic and infrastructural development initiatives.
“I deplore these sanctions as targeted because when sanctions are targeted, they should remain as a measure to minimise the negative humanitarian impact by specifically targeting single persons.
“However, in our case, they have detrimental effects on the general livelihood of the most vulnerable citizens and has contributed to the continued deterioration of the economy of the country. They are not helping any Zimbabwean, instead, they are simply serving the purpose of furthering the EU and US foreign policy agenda,” said Dr Alfandika.
He added that Zimbabwe was a representative democracy, what it means was that the incumbent political leadership represent the people and targeting them with any measure of sanctions was synonymous with targeting the whole population because political leadership represent the people.
Dr Alfandika said although there were names of individuals and corporations who were said to have been targeted, those were influential businesses, political leaders and corporations who have great potential to employ as many thousands of Zimbabweans and have the potential to earn revenue for the country.
He said the so-called targeted sanctions were bleeding the nation, Zimbabweans were suffering an increased rate of unemployment, and Zimbabwe was suffering foreign currency shortages.
“From an apolitical perspective, the sanctions are targeted at the people of Zimbabwe, not on the few individuals and corporations selected. These few are just being used as scapegoats because of their potential to uplift the nation.
They have been used as pawns in a political chess-game and have been fitted in the sanction game to cripple them from diligently discharging their duties in serving the people of Zimbabwe. To say ‘‘targeted sanctions is just rhetoric, is a myth that must be dismissed by all progressive Zimbabweans.”
In the final analysis, he said, “I see sanctions as imposed on the people of Zimbabwe and have caused immeasurable socio-economic harm and suffering to the people than to the purported individuals.”
Provisions of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zdera) of 2001 lay bare that US sanctions against Zimbabwe have economic elements that inevitably contribute to the country’s economic collapse.
The Act states among other issues that the US intends to influence change of behaviour in the government of Zimbabwe by preventing the IMF and the International Development Association (IDA), among other International Financial Institutions, from extending financial support to Zimbabwe.
According to Section 4(c) of Zdera titled “Multilateral Financial Restrictions,” until the President of the United States makes the certification described in subsection 4(d), the Secretary of the Treasury Executive to each of the International Financial Institutions must oppose or vote against: “(i) an extension by the respective institutions of any loan, credit or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe. (ii) Any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any International Financial Institution”.
Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cde Edgar Moyo weighed in saying sanctions have had a huge impact on Zimbabwe’s educational sector.
He said sanctions have led to the mass exodus of teachers from public schools, caused by poor remuneration endangering the opportunity of kids from poor family backgrounds to acquire education, since they cannot afford the fees of private schools or travel abroad for education.
Sanctions have put to naught the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) recommendations that primary education should be compulsory and free and should be made available and accessible to every child.
“Sanctions have led to brain drain in the education sector where Maths and Science areas are the hardest hit. They talk about the DRC war because the US had interests and they slow down economic activity. Teaching material is now hard to come by and parents are struggling to pay fees,” he said.
Research has shown that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) incorporates the right to education, while the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), under Article 28, stipulates the right to education for every child.
The article goes on to state that wealthy countries should help poorer countries to achieve this right. In view of the above, rich developed countries of the West should be in the forefront of implementing universal basic education, whilst they desist from actions that will directly or indirectly antagonise the right to education.
Furthermore, sanctions affected support programmes provided by foreign donors to Zimbabwe’s educational sector.
For example, the Swedish government in 1996 established the Education Sector Support Programme, which was funded to the tune of 95 million SEK.
The programme supplied textbooks and other educational materials to Zimbabwe schools. It also constructed school buildings and promoted gender equality in educational systems in Zimbabwe, bridging the gender disparity in schools but was withdrawn after the EU imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The suspension of this project by the Swedish government has a significant negative impact on the beneficiaries.
Affected families are now left with the responsibility of providing school materials for their children, even under the terrible economic situations prevailing in the country. It is therefore, evident that it is the civilian population that is hit hardest as their basic rights and well-being are subjected to multi-faceted socio-economic challenges wrought by sanctions.