The Sunday News
IN 2001 after the country embarked on the historic land reform programme that corrected the injustices wrought by colonial subjugation, the US and Britain responded by enacting the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) 2001 from whose broad banner emerged the illegal economic sanctions.
The penal response never bothered to look at the historical narratives of the land issue after the Lancaster House Agreement that Britain decided not to honour. It was made in anger and haste and had nothing to do with democracy as the world has been misled into believing.
It had all the ingredients of a political tiff that was motivated by the displacement of the white commercial farmers from the land for distribution to landless blacks when the country realised that the former colonisers had been dishonest and had no intentions of honouring agreements made prior.
And for almost two decades now, the country has been labouring under the weight of the economic embargo which has nothing to do with democracy, human rights and or property rights with slow but perfunctory steps to bust them using available local resources to develop its economy.
Today, the spirit of togetherness is exhibited in undiluted measure as the Sadc region is in solidarity with Zimbabwe in calling for the unconditional lifting of the sanctions by the EU and the US. That the economic embargo was inspired by the need to protect the interests of British citizens in Zimbabwe ahead of the black majority and perpetuate colonial inequality is there for all to see.
A regime change agenda was therefore pursued with unrestrained vigour on two major fronts. The first was to sponsor a political alternative that will reverse the land reform programme and give the whites the high table honour that they couldn’t forgo after independence. The second was to trash the economy through the sanctions and create enemies for the liberation party within the country through people’s suffering.
For the avoidance of doubt, the US was irked by Zimbabwe’s intervention in the DRC war where it had vested interests and its joining hands with Britain that was fighting a land war with Zimbabwe was not by coincidence or accident, it was commonsensical at least according to them because the country had become a common enemy, a stumbling block to their continued imperialistic machinations.
And that the Zanu-PF government was the first and major culprit is not in doubt as it is the same liberation party that fought for the land and that presided over the land reform. The then US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker, during hearings for the US sanctions law made the motive of the sanctions clear when he declared that, “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.” To this day, Zimbabwe’s economy is screaming, but remains resilient.
The Act, apart from being selfish and punitive states among other issues that the US intends to influence change of behaviour in the government of Zimbabwe by preventing the International Monetary Fund and the International Development Association (IDA), among other International Financial Institutions, from extending financial support to Zimbabwe.
According to Section 4(c) of Zidera 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.”
The sanctions have therefore presided over the buckling of the Zimbabwean economy with innocent citizens taken as collateral damage in a political war as they have brought down parastatals that were barred from exporting their products to the EU and the US.
Lines of credit were closed and investment into the country by companies and individuals from EU member states was vetoed. Mega infrastructure projects were abruptly abandoned and donor funds in the health and education sector and other sectors of the economy were stopped.
It is however, our hope that today’s clarion call by Sadc and all progressive minds for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe gets traction and reverberate into sensible diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and the West.
It is therefore important to point here and now that Zimbabwe does not need sanctions. They are not about democracy but they are punitive and selfish. They are retrogressive and economic disablers and they need to be lifted unconditionally so that Zimbabwe enjoys its diplomatic and trade rights which are currently choked by the sanctions. It is heartening therefore to note that Sadc set October 25 as the Sadc Day Against Zimbabwe Sanctions, which would mark the start of a collective and sustained call for the unconditional removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe.