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Zimbabwe sanctions conundrum

01 Nov 2019 at 21:52hrs | Views
The USA first enacted ZIDERA in 2001 as a response to gross human rights abuses, economic mismanagement, violent grab of white owned farms, violent crackdown on opposition and dissent, costly deployment of troops to DRC and government practises that undermined democracy.The sanctions were meant to press for democratic , political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe.Since 2001 the sanctions have been constantly renewed upto date and in August 2018 the ZIDERA was amended and signed into law.The sanctions laid out certain conditions to be met for their upliftment which include, amendment and repealing of laws inconsistent with the constitution such as AIPPA and POSA, respect and ensure enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedom such as the right to freedom of association and assembly and the right to demonstrate and petition, holding of free and fair elections by ensuring and guaranteeing the independence of the election management body, ensuring equal access to state media for all political parties and zero involvement of the security in elections as well as the provision of voters roll to all political parties and stakeholders.

The government has however continously shown no interest in bowing down to this demands by ZIDERA.

The government blamed sanctions for the economic misfortunes that faced the country since Mugabe's reign but the coming in of the new dispensation saw a change in approach and an admittance that blaming sanctions everyday for our economic misfortunes will not help us as a country or move the country foward.President Mnangagwa himself while addressing delegates at the Chief's conference in Gweru in January 2018 urged Zimbabweans to stop complaining baout the impact of the Western sanctions on the country but rather to focus on creatively leveraging on available human and natural resourcesto steer growth and development.He said , ‘Yes, sanctions are there but we should not continue talking about them.We must have solutions and already, we have a solution in agriculture and this should cascade to all sectors.' This showed the extent to which the new dispensation understood and appreciated that we have the power to internally change our economic tale.

However soon after the 2018 elections the new dispensation suddenly reverted to the old approach of sanctions rhetoric for the reasons best known to themselves. Maybe because they were new they didn't appreciate the effects of sanctions.But were they new? Maybe it was a political strategy to differentiate them from the old dispensation thereby luring votes.This strategy however proved not fruitful as evidenced by Mugabe who spent the greater part of his rule lambasting sanctions but failed neither to get them removed nor to turn around the economy.

The Zanu pf government and its apologists have been blaming sanctions for every economic misfortune that bedevils the country, but the history of sanctions did not start in 2001.Instead they started far back in 1966 when the British and United Nations imposed political and economic sanctions on the then Rhodesia after unilateral declaration of independence by Ian Smith.The sanctioons included oil embargo, a ban on military and motor vehicles sales to Rhodesia and a ban on imports such as asbestos, iron ore, chrome, pig iron, sugar, tobacco, copper, meat products from Rhodesia.However despite these sanctions, their intensity and magnitude, the Rhodesian economy kept thriving.The sanctions failed to reach the intended impact on the Rhodesian economy.It is important to also note that at the time of the sanctions Smith also had a war to finance but he managed to keep the economy kicking, companies running and the Rhodesian currency very strong.

The question is then why are USA sanctions crumbling the economy of Zimbabwe whilist the United Nations sanctions failed Rhodesia.The answer i think lies in the internal structures.Weak and decayed structures can easily be collapsed even by a small wind but when structures are strong even a storm of high magnitude cannot collapse them.This is echoed by the parable of the wise and foolish builders found in the gospel of Matthew where a wise builder's house build upon a rock was invincible to the floods and strong winds while the foolish builder's hoouse build on sand was easily collapsed by floods and strong winds.The Rhodesia faced a storm of high magnitude in form of UN sanctions but because its internal structures were strong she managed to withstand the storm.Zimbabwe's weak internal sructures were collapsed by a small wind in the form of USA sanctions.Infact the structures were showing signs of collapse long before the storm came.Our structures were decayed and weakened by rampant corruption, poor debt management, poor governance, undemocratic tendencies, human rights abuse, poor economic policies etc.

We have limited control over storms but surely we can control our structures to withstand the storm.Those in authority who are responsible for building our internal structures should simply build strong structures that can withstand storms of any magnitude rather than complaining and cursing the storm everyday.

Lets arrest corruption, let all the corrupt face justice.What happened to the list of those who externalised funds? What happened to criminals surrounding Mugabe? What happened to those onthe Zanu pf youth league corrupt list? What happened to those whose accounts were recently frozen?

Lets respect human rights and shun the culture of impunity.What happened to the August 1 and January killer soldiers?

Lets manage our debts and economic policies prudently.Lets move away from unilateral imposition of policies and engage our citizens thoroughly and that all done we will withstand storm of any magnitude and make Zimbabwe a Great Zimbabwe.

Terrence Wuragu writes in his own personal capacity and can be contacted on

Source - Terrence Wuragu
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