There are sanctions against Zimbabwe, stupid!


While Mail Online and Reuters (pictured) were spot on that the sanctions were against Zimbabwe, it is astounding why local media viewed the sanctions as only targeted against the First Family

Why does the mainstream Western Press, whose capitals have instituted these sanctions against Zimbabwe, interpret the regime as sanctions against Zimbabwe but the Zimbabwean media say they are sanctions against only two individuals (The First Family)?

WHEN the United States sends in unmanned aircraft known as drones to kill individuals it deems undesirable to its national interests, it calls it a surgical operation. Ironically, only 2 percent of all deaths are the targeted individuals.

So far about 5 000 people have been killed, many more innocent people maimed and injured.

Incontrovertibly, there is nothing targeted or surgical about such operations with collateral damage of 98 percent.

The targets themselves are extra-judicially killed. There is no trial, there is no attempt to arrest. It is just a unilateral operation with mass destructive consequences which does not have a court of appeal. It does not have any due process. There is no due process, there is no right to be heard.

It is just summary execution. This is a foreign policy with no regard to the welfare of third party lives, limb or property.

It is just like those sanctions against Zimbabwe which are packaged as “special measures” or “smart sanctions”.

They are even sometimes dressed up as travel bans. The gullible fail to see beyond the camouflage and smokescreens. These evil schemes have a very perverse effect on the whole economic system of a country.

Last week these measures against Zimbabwe were renewed for another year. Most headlines read, “EU Renews Sanctions on Zimbabwe”.

Almost all Western media such as Reuters, Yahoo News, World Affairs, The Daily Mail and many other outlets had the same take on the issue. That sanctions had been renewed against Zimbabwe. The surprise was on reading the local headlines in the Zimbabwean media.

The majority went, “EU Renews Sanctions on Mugabe, Grace”. There is a dichotomous understanding of what is actually happening with the sanctions regime.

Or is a deliberate attempt to mislead?

Why does the mainstream Western Press, whose capitals have instituted these sanctions against Zimbabwe interpret the regime as sanctions against Zimbabwe but the Zimbabwean media say it is sanctions against only two individuals (The First Family)?

The Western journalists interact with the EU diplomats in the corridors of Brussels, their editors go for luncheons and have informal chats off the record with the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) as well as other Western power mandarins.

They therefore have a different idiosyncratic understanding of the unstated nuance of the sanctions regime. It is simple. When a Head of State and Government is under sanctions, the country is under sanctions.

Contrary to all scepticism and cynicism which is abound in the Zimbabwe political discourse, Zimbabwe remains under sanctions from Western powers.

How sanctions affect a country as they are affecting Zimbabwe is quite complex.

It is beyond the scope of this piece to go through the intricacies of these unwelcome interferences which are disguised as altruistic interventions. If the sanctions were not that efficacious, they would have been removed. This is not just about travel.

The visa regime is what is used ordinarily to screen who should and should not travel and enter any country. Why not simply refuse to grant a visa to the President?

After all, every Zimbabwean passport holder, including those that hold the red VIP passports, need visas to visit most, if not all European countries.

There are many documented and undocumented instances where those that were on the travel embargoes were still denied visas to visit the European cities after the embargoes had been removed.

They all respectfully accepted that decision. So denying President Mugabe a visa for a private visit would be at best discourteous and at worst embarrassing.

But it would not work as a weapon designed to leverage certain actions towards certain desired outcomes.

How many people honestly believe that after all that has happened in the last 14 years between Zimbabwe, Britain and Europe that the President and his family would take a social visit to these European capitals? Everyone knows that as things stand right now, he can visit these capitals on religious, Sadc and AU duties.

So any other visit would be social and maybe personal business. Now supposing the next thing one would say is that the sanctions are meant to stop him from paying Europe a business visit.

After so many widely circulated reports of him owning a castle in Scotland and so many other disproved and discredited claims, it is now clear that the Mugabe family has never kept any money in either London or any other capital because none has been found and impounded when the European sanctions were formerly instituted in 2002. So what is the argument for keeping them? The reason is not constructed on their political symbolical value.

The reason is underpinned by the fact that these sanctions are effective in decimating the Zimbabwean economy and undermining his rule.

Their efficacy will mean the failure by his government to deliver the desired outcomes of its electoral mandates therefore putting it at risk of losing the goodwill of Zimbabwean people and/or of being booted out in the next election.

The effect of all this is that it is not just the President under sanctions. It is Zimbabwe. In most developed nations, denying the holocaust is a serious criminal offence.

A good Zimbabwean blogger whose political slant is with the opposition recently suggested that denying Gukurahundi should be made a criminal offence.

Without delving into that emotive and sensitive subject this time round, would it be draconian under the same breath to say denying sanctions should also be criminalised?

After all, thousands have died when the economy melted down. Thousands are still dying. The cost is not only an economic catastrophe but a human disaster as well.

These sanctions have been an unmanned drone causing so much untold suffering, killing in numbers and maiming in thousands. They are losing us a generation of Zimbabweans. The whole world knows it. They confess about it in their headlines. It is only the Zimbabwean denying this for political expedience.

When they declare that Europe has renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe for a year, it is not a mistake. They are neither suggesting that Robert Mugabe is Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe is Robert Mugabe.

They are just stating the obvious that sanctions on a Head of State is effectively sanctions on that State. The 28 countries represented in the European Union are not fools and vain enough to just go through a superfluous process every February if they felt their actions were not effective.

After all, Zanu-PF detractors say that sanctions are being used to justify a lot of government ills and shortcomings.

There is no honest person that would deny that things could be done differently.

There are a lot of structural changes that are needed, political will that is needed as well as a lot of transparency that is also needed. That is all true.

But also true is the fact that sanctions are damaging our economy in a bad way.

The stigma of sanctions makes the competence of any economic policy difficult, if not almost impossible, and this has been seen in Russia, Cuba and Iran, among other countries. It is a miracle or deft statecraft that the country is still standing.

It is tragic that the sanctions against Zimbabwe have been renewed for another year to be reviewed on February 20, 2016.

This is following their renewal on Friday the 20th of February 2015.

Are these dates fortuitous or calculated to dampen the President’s birthday celebrations the following day?

If there is a sinister reason behind the coinciding of these dates with his birthday?

If so, then judging by large turnout of Zimbabweans who celebrated the President’s birthday fronted by Zanu-PF UK on Saturday, Zimbabweans don’t buy it.

It surely is not going to stop the celebrations in Victoria Falls on Saturday either.

So if so many Zimbabweans, including those in England, are celebrating their President’s birthday, whose interests are these Western powers representing? We ask again. Whatever else people want to believe, it would not change the truth.

This is that as much as a drone kills more innocent than the desired target, the so-called smart sanctions are indiscriminate and not so smart after all.

In any case, why is this being done in the name of Zimbabweans? Which Zimbabweans now support these sanctions, bar a very small misguided minority?

Even those that called for them have realised that they cannot give them power.

Some of them are saying that they should go so that Zanu-PF doesn’t have any more excuses for failures. The rest of the Zimbabweans voted for the President. Their interests are served by this President. Sanctions only serve the interests of those that instituted them, and they should go.

The only way sanctions against Zimbabwe would have any legitimacy is when they are requested for by regional institutions such as Sadc and the AU and not for bilateral differences as happened between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom over land.

Is the reader tired of hearing the sanctions arguments? Then by all means join the campaign against them so everyone and the country can move on!