EDITORIAL COMMENT: Zim can never live on its knees

December 21 will mark the 14th anniversary since former US president George W. Bush imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe following the land reform programme, which has seen thousands of landless people benefiting. Since then, his successor Barack Obama has remained unyielding in lifting the illegal sanctions against President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe. A statement titled Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Zimbabwe published on March 3 says that the embargo is to continue in effect beyond March 6, 2015.

Obama claims that President Mugabe and Government “pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue this national emergency and to maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat.” The same old story we have heard from the White House, under a policy so devoid of logic to the extent that while the United States claims it is doing this in order to protect the interests of the people of Zimbabwe, it is doing the exact opposite.

The sanctions regime has hurt Zimbabweans and the motive is not lost. They want to reduce them to paupers for daring to reclaim their land and resources. The Obama administration must therefore not make it look like they are protecting Zimbabweans from their leadership, when they are silently killing them.

The irony is that as the US maintains an iron grip on Zimbabwe through these embargoes, its allies — the European Union and former coloniser Great Britain are re-engaging Zimbabwe at government level.

Since 1980, Zimbabweans have periodically gone to the polls to elect leaders of their choice. They have always elected President Mugabe because it is their inalienable right to do so and the US, despite being a major power cannot take that right away from them. They fought for those civil liberties and if the US believes in the letter and spirit of personal freedoms it should desist from interfering in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. Instead of labelling Zimbabwe a threat to its foreign policy, the United States is in fact the major threat to world peace and security.

The current instability in every part of the world is because the US wants to lord it over everyone. By imposing illegal sanctions against every country that it disagrees with, the US is also showing that it does not want to give room for dialogue and that the only language it knows in conflict resolution is imposing punitive sanctions. This is adversely affecting the economies of the affected countries because it impacts on inter- and intra-trade.

Former Ambassador to China Christopher Mutsvangwa rightly called the US action “arrogance of the highest order.”

It is arrogance because the US does not introspect on why Zimbabweans, Sadc and Africa would want to be led by President Mugabe.

If Zimbabwe poses a threat to US foreign policy, what this means is that Africa as a whole is a threat to them given how Zim-Asset dovetails with Agenda 2063.

It is also “arrogance” because not long ago president Obama sent a number of high-level delegations, including prominent civil rights activists Andrew Young and Reverend Jesse Jackson. We thought that they were good starting points to re-engagement, but Zimbabweans feel cheated by gestures that have not produced positive results just because the US wants certain leaders to be in power. What guarantees do they have that when those leaders are voted into power, the elections will be free, fair and credible?

If it has taken more than five decades for the US to soften its stance against Cuba, Zimbabwe must realise that sanctions are here to stay.

The US is quick to condemn, but it falls short on forgiving and releasing their perceived “enemies”. In view of this, Zimbabwe needs a paradigm shift in the way it does business. As a nation, let us put our heads together to rebuild what has been destroyed by these illegal sanctions. We did not attain sovereignty and self-determination in order to live on hand-outs.

We should not be forced to sell our natural resources at give-away prices just because we are under sanctions.

We can rediscover ourselves if we realise the importance of unity and self-determination. We are a proud people who will never capitulate. To this end, we would rather die on our feet than live on our knees. Sanctions or no sanctions.