Sanctions were imposed since 2002 on Zimbabwe by the EU and several Western countries under the pretext of a violent human rights catastrophe during presidential elections that saw Robert Mugabe succeed.
The West did not turn a blind eye to this particular human rights incident. Mugabe’s most important political asset is the credibility he gained as a dedicated fighter against colonialism in southern Africa expropriating land away from Western interests.
Press TV, in its Africa Today program, has conducted an interview with Mr. Leslie Maruziva, political analyst in London about the hope Zimbabwe has in one day becoming free from sanctions. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: If I could ask the pertinent question, which I suppose a lot of analysts would be looking at especially pro-African ones. Do you think this is just another example of the West using a carrot to make Africa in this case avoid the stick of sanctions?
Maruziva: It depends on which side you’re on. Indeed, most analysts in Zimbabwe and in particular the ones from MDC-Zanu-PF have dismissed them as a “non-starter”, I think is the phrase they’ve used.
They were quite keen to just do away with the entire sanctions altogether. But I think one of the things we need to look at is whether the sanctions have worked for Zimbabwe or not and I think the message that needs to go back to the West is that, may be a new model needs to come in on sanctions.
I personally, being Zimbabwean, think they have not worked at all. If anything I think they have plunged the majority of poor Zimbabweans more into poverty and protected the very same people that they were supposed to hurt.
Press TV: Famed anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain has brought attention to blood diamonds and Zimbabwe being involved in their use to fund various negative activity – How strong a case is this because he is arguing it very strongly in the UK parliament. Can I get your response?
Maruziva: I feel for Peter Hain. This is somebody who’s got a history of trying to help countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe. And I think his point is valid in that there still is an issue in Zimbabwe, you know, diamonds; and human rights are not up to the level that we expect them to be.
Press TV: Do you not think that is exaggerated somewhat in certain press?
Maruziva: No it isn’t. In fact, in some of the press articles I’ve seen today the British intelligence have actually come up with names from within, allegedly from within the heart of MDC-Zanu-PF who are involved in all of these clandestine companies that have been set up and doing business with the Chinese – and I think that’s the fundamental point.
Press TV: But can you separate British intelligence sources from the intentions of the British government?
Maruziva: Absolutely not let’s face it.
Press TV: But you’re giving it some level of credibility…
Maruziva: No. No I’m not.
The point I’m trying to make here is to realize that sanctions as we have come to know them do not work. They actually have resulted in some of these secret services organizations in Zimbabwe, the army, and the very same people that they’re supposed to be curtailing are actually getting filthy wealthy in Zimbabwe.
They’ve always found ways to go around it; they’ve found ways to deal with the former communist countries like China and Russia in particular – the very same countries that have opposed sanctions in Zimbabwe or anywhere else are the very same countries that are doing business in Zimbabwe now.
Press TV: About the potential for the African Union… Now Mugabe simultaneously has been appealing very strongly especially in their recent meeting in Ethiopia for support, you know, he says let’s have a word of support for Zimbabwe and the lack of justification for these sanctions, the fact that they weren’t approved by the UN Security Council and technically speaking if you respect the mechanism of the UN, these sanctions are illegal. Do you think he has a prayer in getting support from the AU?
Maruziva: I don’t think so. I think Africa is still a long way from being able to have the economic power to stand up to any Western country. And I feel sorry for Robert Mugabe, you know, some of his old schoolmates who used to help him to bash the drum as it were, are not in the AU, they’re not in SADC (Southern African Development Community).
I think he is probably fighting a lonely war. The fact of the matter is [that] Africa is still reliant on the Western world. You just need to look at the level of investment that’s going into… not investment, but more the donor community i.e. the level of funding that’s going into African government budgets; it’s mostly from the Western world. And any country that decides to sort of not tow that line is immediately seen as going the wrong way and they suffer from that.
Press TV: There seems to be a little seed of hope of what SADC has actually managed to achieve during this 10 year decade long period of sanctions. So do you think they can build on that?
We’re talking a very depressing image here almost like the Africa Union being a neo-colonial tool, but there is some potential for hope do you not think especially around what SADC has managed to do?
Maruziva: Absolutely. You just need to go back to Zimbabwe. Recently we had the for the first time going to the Australians and having some success in terms of getting them if you like towing the EU line and lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe, it was the same thing with New Zealand.
So the fact that you’ve got someone who is in government with Robert Mugabe, saying it’s time to lift the sanctions, I think that’s helping.
Also, we have to actually say the MDC (Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change) has had a more sympathetic ear for SADC in recent months where they’ve decided to stand up to Robert Mugabe and try to get him to tow the line as well.
So there is a combination of both within SADC and in Zimbabwe where for the first time you’re hearing the former opposition groups asking the international community to lift the sanctions.