Zimbabwe: Govt Cannot Continue Using Sanctions Pretext

SADC leaders in August, at their summit in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, set October 25 as the date to stage anti-sanctions protests across the region. Zimbabwe declared tomorrow a public holiday to mark the anti-sanctions crusade.

In Harare, where the main protests will be held, Zanu PF supporters will march from Robert Mugabe Square, near the showgrounds, to the National Sports Stadium, where they will be entertained by various local musicians and a soccer match.

As Zanu PF supporters march tomorrow, the question many people are asking is whether ordinary people are suffering more as a result of American sanctions than from mistakes made by Zanu PF leadership.

Most well-meaning Zimbabweans agree that sanctions are undesirable, as they are devastating, particularly to the financial services and payment systems. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, banks and businesspeople have spoken out about the effects of the sanctions on the country’s collapsing economy, currently battling debilitating foreign currency and liquidity crunch, fuel shortages, daily power cuts of up to 18 hours, skyrocketing prices, company closures, retrenchments and plummeting foreign currency earnings.

Econet founder and billionaire Strive Masiyiwa told a meeting of Afreximbank clients last year that: “When sanctions hit the country, every credit line disappeared. You could not talk to anyone, they were shutting down”. While many Zimbabweans are opposed to sanctions, they reject the propagandist axiom blaming the restrictive measures for all the problems bedevilling the country.

To some extent, United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols’ assertions were on point, when he singled out corruption as culpable for hurting the economy.

In an interview with In Conversation with (AMH chairperson) Trevor (Ncube), Nichols said: “The number one is the issue of corruption. He said corruption has cost this country billions of dollars. The lower estimates are over a billion dollars a year”.

Nobody really wants sanctions. Even the opposition should never ride on sanctions as a political tool — it is a bad and unwise political strategy. However, government cannot be allowed to use the sanctions rhetoric as a smokescreen to conceal its failures.

Adopting such an attitude shows its unwillingness to accept the prevailing crisis is deeply entrenched in corruption, gross mismanagement, inconsistent and detrimental policies, as well as bad governance. Unfortunately, government is expending energy on symptoms, not the root causes.

As a country, we must dismantle these internal sanctions. Some of the things demanded by Zimbabwe Democracy Economic Recovery Act of 2001 are actually outlined in the country’s constitution, which government embraced when it adopted it in 2013.

Government does not require external pressure to uphold the rule of law, respect human and property rights, deal with corruption and promote good governance.

While the reality of sanctions cannot be denied, it must be made clear the restrictions emanated from the human rights violations which are still obtaining in the country, which government can rectify.The ball is in government’s court.

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