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Sanctions: Creating political pawns out of ordinary people

Today, Zimbabweans, and, indeed, all Africans, converge across the Motherland to speak with one voice against the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, under the theme “Friend to All, Enemy to None: Forging ahead and Enhancing Innovation and Productivity in Adversity of Sanctions”.

Zimbabwe has always been a friend to all, forging everlasting relations for the common good, even in the face of challenges.

This October, therefore, Africans, led by SADC, take cognisance of how in a wealthy country thousands of kilometres away, a parliament — both lower and upper Houses, at the instigation of Big Brother, met to decide citizens of Zimbabwe’s fate.

Not that it was or is new for the supremacist Big Brother to decide on behalf of Zimbabweans, no!

In a scientific study titled “Politics of sanctions: Impact of US and EU sanctions on the rights and well-being of Zimbabweans”, published in 2015, Chidiebere C Ogbonna, an academic, researcher, writer and peace facilitator, observes that Zimbabwe has “been sanctioned in six sanction episodes: 1966, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009”.

Therefore, Zimbabwe is “one of the most sanctioned countries in the world”. Sanctions have consequently scuppered economic development. Thus, threatening the overall welfare of Zimbabweans, and impinging on their rights.

It is curious to contemplate why the United States Congress came up with a law that would end up causing the suffering of citizens of such a small country as Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001, amended in 2018, was hinged on the ‘obligation’ “To provide for a transition to democracy and to promote economic recovery in Zimbabwe”.

One wonders under whose authority, and how, would the US push for “a transition to democracy” in a sovereign country like Zimbabwe without the input of its citizens.

Whose democracy? Since democracy is multi-pronged, who determines what is democratic or not? Also, how can economic recovery be possible in a situation where the voice of the feeble is muffled by the swishing hand of the mighty?

Probably reference to some sections of the Act may be sufficient in responding to some of the pressing questions above.

In its statement of policy, the Act outlines: “It is the policy of the United States to support the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle to effect peaceful, democratic change, achieve broad-based and equitable economic growth, and restore the rule of law.”

Playing Big Brother, through the Act, the US indicates that it would support Zimbabweans to “effect peaceful, democratic change”, calling it its “policy”. In all essence, such warped thinking has all the hallmarks of a hegemonic desire to push for regime change under the guise of prescribed democracy.

Clearly, the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe owing, principally, to the country’s stance on the land issue as a way of achieving “equitable economic growth”, were neither targeted nor restrictive. They were crafted to cause strife and incite citizens to mutiny. From the onset, the sanctions were aimed at creating political pawns out of ordinary citizens.

The idea was to provoke, aggravate and apportion blame, pretending to offer solutions to a premeditated outcome.

The following extract from Zidera (2001) may suffice in the discernment of how targeted states are singled out for punishment.

Section 4 of the Act, Findings (1) reads:

“Through economic mismanagement, undemocratic practices, and the costly deployment of troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Government of Zimbabwe has rendered itself ineligible to participate in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Monetary Fund programmes, which would otherwise be providing substantial resources to assist in the recovery and modernisation of Zimbabwe’s economy.”

In view of the above citation, economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe for the far-fetched reasons given, lead to restrictions on trade and access to international funding.

Zimbabwe was not the only African country that partook in Operation Legitimacy in the DRC. Combined forces from Zimbabwe, DRC, Angola, South Africa and Namibia were pitted against Western sponsored insurgents from DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. To then single out Zimbabwe for punishment is a travesty of justice, and smacks of hypocrisy.

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