MDC says there are no sanctions on Zimbabwe

On Hot Seat Violet Gonda talks to the Minister of State in Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s office, Gorden Moyo, who clarifies that there are “no sanctions” on Zimbabwe . The Minister also reveals that neither the Prime Minister nor the cabinet were consulted on the issue of Zimbabwe pulling out of the SADC Tribunal (which has made rulings in support of white commercial farmers).

Broadcast: – 4 September, 2009


Violet Gonda: My guest on the Hot Seat programme is Gordon Moyo, the minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office. Hallo Mr Moyo.


Gorden Moyo: Hallo, how are you?

Gonda: I’m OK. I’d like to start by talking with you about the issue of sanctions. It’s reported or it appears that pressure is mounting on the two MDC formations to fulfil agreed concessions to the inclusive government and chief among them, is actively advocating the lifting of what Zanu-PF says are economic sanctions imposed by the west. Now first of all can you describe for us the measures in place?

Moyo: Let me start by making a disclaimer here. It is not the responsibility of the MDC to deal with the issue of sanctions. It is the responsibility of the inclusive government which is composed of three political parties, the MDC -T, the MDC -M and Zanu-PF. So it is not an exclusive issue of two parties into the inclusive government. It is the inclusive government in its totality because the issues that led to restrictive measures or sanctions as it were; are issues that are related very strongly to the former government of Zimbabwe .

But to come back to your question, there are various narratives about the issue of sanctions/restrictive measures. There is one narrative from Zanu-PF which I call nationalistic narrative. This narrative or this discourse from Zanu-PF claims that Zimbabwe was imposed some sanctions by the west. The west imposed these sanctions, economic and trade sanctions to Zimbabwe because of the land redistribution programme. That the west was against the land redistribution programme – that’s what Zanu-PF believe. They say that was punishment to Zanu-PF.

The other narrative is the narrative of the democrats or reformers in government who believe that, no we do not have sanctions in the country, what we have are restrictive measures which came into life because the government of Zimbabwe was not respecting human rights, the government of Zimbabwe had no respect for the rule of law and good governance and as a result many of the countries around the world could not relate with the Zanu-PF government which did not respect the norms and values of good governance. So they then imposed targeted measures or some restrictive measures to some individuals in government who were seen as perpetuators, as merchants of violence in the country.

So those are the two broad perspectives in as far as the interpretation of the sanctions and restrictive measures are concerned. But there are official positions from the international community itself. The World Bank and IMF have not imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe . What they have imposed are financial penalties because Zimbabwe had failed to honour its obligations to the World Bank and to the IMF. We did not pay our arrears to the World Bank and to the International Monetary Fund. Now according to their standards, according to their regulations, if a country fails to pay their arrears, that country has to be in one way or the other be punished. Hence the credit lines were stopped by the World Bank and IMF in 1997, 1998, 1999, some grants that were provided to Zimbabwe from those two Bretton institutions were blocked and stopped, not because of the land but because Zimbabwe had failed only to honour its obligations.

So we can’t say we are failing to get credit lines, to get grants, to get loans from the World Bank and the IMF because of the land issue. In fact I’d like to let your listeners know that it was in 1997 and 1998 that these two institutions started imposing some penalties, financial penalties in Zimbabwe , two years before the formation of the MDC . It is not true that the MDC invited sanctions to Zimbabwe or they promoted sanctions into the country because financial penalties by the World Bank and by the IMF were imposed onto Zimbabwe in 1997, 1998, two years before the formation of the MDC . So it’s not possible for MDC to have invited sanctions in to the country when they were not yet formed, when the MDC was not yet conceived in 1997, 1998. So I therefore say to you it is not true that the MDC is responsible for sanctions or restrictive measures in the country, it was because Zimbabwe failed to pay its arrears to the World Bank and to the IMF.

Gonda: So Mr Moyo are you saying there are no illegal sanctions at all in Zimbabwe because according to Zanu-PF, there’s the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act or Z’DERA and Zanu-PF says the Act which was enacted by the US introduced economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, sanctions which they say have harmed the country?

Moyo: I would like to peel folklore from history and from fact. Z’DERA which was enacted in 2001 by the United States government indeed imposes some restrictive measures on Zimbabwe . It says the United States will oppose the granting of loans, of credit lines or grants by any financial institution to Zimbabwe and they give their reason. Their reason is that the government of Zimbabwe was not respecting the rule of law, the norms and values of good governance. As a result the government of the United States could not relate as usual with the government of Zimbabwe, but I must make it clear that the United States has got only 16.7% of the voting powers within the IMF and the World Bank which means the World Bank can still give loans to Zimbabwe even if the United States is against, even if the United States votes against the granting of those loans, so it is not Z’DERA that has stopped the credit lines coming from the World Bank or from the IMF because the US has no majority, it has only 16.7%.

So it is a lie, a pathological lie, it is propagandism to peddle the information that Z’DERA has caused so much harm in the country. It is us as government of Zimbabwe that has failed to deal with the issues of human rights, with the issues of rule of law, issues of good governance. But let me tell you this, Z’DERA states it very clearly that if the government of Zimbabwe respects, if it changes and respects these norms and values of human rights, the President of the United States reserves the right to immediately repeal the Act so the ball is in our court as Zimbabweans to make the Z’DERA repealed, to make Z’DERA irrelevant. If we simply implement the Global Political Agreement, Z’DERA will be irrelevant tomorrow, it won’t take even a day – if we implement fully the Global Political Agreement as we have signed it, there will be no need for Z’DERA. Even the international community in terms of its multilateral institutions will mellow to Zimbabwe overnight. So we shouldn’t be crying about sanctions, we should be reflecting and we should be looking at ourselves, subjecting ourselves into critical appraisal and say let’s implement what we agreed to implement on the 15 th of September 2008 .

Gonda: Can you briefly outline for us what’s left to be implemented or what needs to be implemented because there seems to be this confusion: On the one hand, you as the MDC you say there are several issues that are still unresolved but Zanu-PF say the only two outstanding issues are the issue of the sanctions and also the issue of so-called pirate radio stations. So in your view as the MDC and also speaking from the Prime Minister’s Office, what are the unresolved issues?

Moyo: Let me divide the problematic issues into three categories. The first category is the category of the outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement. The outstanding issues are issues of the Reserve Bank governor and the attorney general. The SADC in 2008 made a statement, made a ruling that the new government, the inclusive government should deal with the matters of the Reserve Bank governor and the attorney general. Now those issues have not been resolved, a deadlock has been reached so they become outstanding in the sense that the Principals in the inclusive government have failed to reach an agreement on how to proceed. Now those issues have been taken to the SADC, a document was prepared and given over to the chairman of SADC, President Zuma. So that’s one category.

Category two is the category that includes issues of implementation where we have stalled implementation of the political agreement. Now within that category we have the provincial governors, we have the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and we have the issues around the ambassadors. Those issues have been resolved. The Principals in the inclusive government met and came up with the resolution; they agreed that there shall be new governors with effect from 1 st September 2009 and that they were going to be sworn in together with the Deputy Minister of Agriculture – that has not happened. It means implementation has been stalled, it’s not taken place. That’s a difficult issue and we need to resolve those matters because the inclusive government is a power sharing government, we need to share power. If those matters are not resolved, it means there is no power sharing across all structures of government.

Now the third category involves the issues of the breach of the Global Political Agreement where we continue to see selective application of law. Where the members of MDC , specifically members of parliament are selectively prosecuted, selectively arrested, selectively sentenced and we continue to see some violence taking place and disruptions in the farms. Now these are critical issues of violation of the Global Political Agreement.

So the world is saying, you agreed to share the governors, the provincial governors, you agreed to bring order in the farms and in the communities, you agreed to respect the rule of law, you agreed to sanitise the political space in the country but this is not happening and we are not going to do these things and we are not demanding them for the international community, they are good for ourselves, Zimbabweans, even without international community, we still need order in the country, we still need to share power equitably according to our agreement in the Global Political Agreement.

Now for Zanu-PF to say there are only two issues, that’s being in my view, unrealistic because the issue of pirate radio stations is very simple to deal with – open up the media in the country, let’s allow for other players to operate in the country. We would have yourselves, we will have all the other radio stations, all other newspapers operating in the country, no-one would like to stay outside their country, and people want to come home. They want to be with their families, they want to be with their friends, they want to be in their land of birth so everybody will come home as soon as there is demonstration by our government that we are truly opening up space for media for engagement.

So the problem is not with one party of the inclusive government, the problem is within the ministries that are supposed to do that. That Ministry which is supposed to open up the airwaves, open up the press and everything like that is part of the purview of Zanu-PF ministries. So we can’t blame the MDC for that. We are supposed to do it together as a government, opening up the air spaces.

As regards to the sanctions, I’ve already said it is the inclusive government that is supposed to implement. Once we’ve implemented all these issues that we’ve agreed, there will be no reason for United States to continue to hang on to Z’DERA. In fact the Prime Minister has already taken a move, a grand step. He went to the United States and ten other countries in Europe to engage the world, to say things are happening in Zimbabwe , to say to them look this is time to re-engage Zimbabwe , and you need to come to Zimbabwe . You will recall that he even came to the United Kingdom where he engaged even the Zimbabweans themselves and he said they should come back home. So the Prime Minister has done his best, in fact as cabinet, we came up with a committee of engagement which is made up of six ministers, two from each of the political parties into the Agreement, to engage the EU. It is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe , Morgan Tsvangirai who went to Brussels to launch the Zimbabwe/EU dialogue for the purposes of engaging EU, to deal with restrictive measures so that we can have our companies operating freely, or engaging the EU. You could have some assistance, international development assistance coming to Zimbabwe , we could have even direct budgetary support into the country through that dialogue and that dialogue at the moment is not moving at the pace that we expected. The pace is painstakingly slow and that pace is determined by the Chairperson of the Committee and the Chairperson of the Committee is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. If the Minister of Foreign Affairs was to reignite the process of engagement, give it more life, give it more power, give it the wings to fly and the feet to run and jump, the process of engaging the EU would lead to the lifting of these restrictive measures. That cannot be blamed onto the MDC . It is the Minister of Foreign Affairs who should be driving that process of engagement.

Gonda: But Mr Moyo, is it really enough for the MDC to say that the Prime Minister has been doing a lot of talking, trying to re-engage the west? What is the MDC doing to put pressure on the Mugabe regime, on Zanu-PF to change because your critics are saying you are relying on the international community and especially on SADC to fight your battles? Are you going to rush to SADC every single time you have a problem in cabinet?

Moyo: We are not going to do that. We have done it once and in my view, it is part of the Global Political Agreement to refer issues to SADC. SADC is the guarantor to the Global Political Agreement; African Union is the guarantor to the Global Political Agreement. We have been pushing for six months, every Monday and every Friday, the Prime Minister meeting with the President to discuss these matters. I think six months if is was a pregnancy by now it would be seen by everybody that surely there is a success curve there and a child is coming. So I think it is proper for the issues be taken to the SADC, it is a legal, it is a legitimate, it is a proper route to take those issues because SADC is a guarantor and we have gone there only once so it is not true that every time issues are raised, we go to the SADC. We have been engaging, the Principals have been engaging. When there was a problem with the constitutional process, the Principals engaged. We have been engaging, every Monday and every Friday Principals meet to engage but at times we realise that we are hitting a brick wall, we are not moving any way, we are idling, we are like a treadmill, cycling and cycling but not going anywhere, only gathering moss. We need to do something and that something has been done. We have called Zuma, Zuma came to Zimbabwe to engage the parties into the inclusive government and we expect some kind of action to take place after this engagement. The most logical thing to do is to engage.

Gonda: But what do you think SADC is actually going to do about this because it is widely believed that Mugabe does not listen to anyone especially those in SADC and especially as the new Chair of SADC is going to be the DRC leader, Joseph Kabila who has a special relationship with Robert Mugabe? And some even say you’ve been talking about the appointment of people like Gideon Gono and you know that Mugabe is not going to budge on issues like that; so how would you respond to people who say you’ve already stripped so many powers off Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, why don’t you just let it go for the sake of progress and move on to other issues? How do you respond to that?

Moyo: Look here, I can’t and we can’t prejudge what SADC is going to do. That would be premature. We are giving SADC a chance, it has got a new chairperson, we have not seen how effective he is, so I think that the best we can do as government is to give SADC a chance, we must give them the responsibility and let’s give them the opportunity to deal with the matters and we can only analyse and we can only make a statement about their effectiveness after they have put their own bite onto that cherry. So I can’t comment further than in terms of what SADC can do, we want to give it a chance. T

he critics, whoever they are, but I’m not aware of them, the critics who are saying we should leave these matters because Mugabe is not going to change anyway, I think it would be naïve for government to do that, for us as parties in government to do that. There is an agreement, an agreement which says the issues of Gono and Tomana must be resolved. We are determined, we are government, we are not a social club where we simply say OK let’s forget about that. These are issues of power, these are issues of principle, and we need to deal with issues of principle with the high moral latitude that they deserve. So we need to deal with that and Mugabe must bend and Mugabe must respect the Agreement so we are not going to stop, we are not going to say no.

Yes, a lot has been done as far as sanitising the Reserve Bank is concerned. A Bill has gone through and the principles of the Bill have gone through cabinet and the committee of legislation – and is now waiting to go parliament to sanitise the RBZ – but that is not enough. There is an Agreement signed on the 15 th of September to deal with the matters of both Gono and Tomana and we shall stick to that. We are principled, we are not going to be swayed, we are not going to dissuaded – we believe in principles so we are going to stick to that. That Mugabe is not going to accept, is not going to change, we don’t know that he’s not going to change, he should change because that’s what the Agreement says.

Gonda : And earlier on you talked a bit about the disruption of farms in the country and this week the Herald reported that Zimbabwe has pulled out of the SADC Tribunal claiming that the regional court has not been properly constituted and that the country will no longer take part in or respect any decisions from the Tribunal. Now is this something that the MDC is aware of and also something that you support?

Moyo: Now look here, we only read about that on the press, we heard about it from the streets. But in the government you don’t operate like that. I can’t say that it’s true because I don’t know about that and something that I don’t know about I don’t comment on. The proper procedure of government – if a decision of that nature and of that gravity has to be taken, that decision has to be taken either through the Council of Ministers or through cabinet and I was in the last cabinet, the last two, three cabinets, I was there and nothing of that nature was brought to the attention of cabinet to make a decision. And neither was it brought to the Council of Ministers, so it’s something that I’ve read about and I don’t know its authenticity and I don’t believe that is true; because anything of that nature, you are talking about the policy of government in relation to other countries, more so in relation to the sub-region and all members of government should be aware of that and should be consulted on such issues and we are not aware of that ourselves.

Gonda: Now according to the Herald, the Justice Minister actually wrote a letter to the SADC Tribunal last month telling them that Zimbabwe was pulling out of the Tribunal, so what does it mean, that the Minister would actually make these unilateral decisions on fundamental issues like this without talking to partners in the GNU, in the coalition government?

Moyo: Like I said, it will be difficult for me to comment on that because until we get proper communication as far as that the matter is concerned to me it remains something that is not true. It’s something that you are reading from the press and you don’t believe everything that is on the press, so I don’t believe that a Minister, a seasoned Minister like the Minister of Justice would do something like that, I don’t believe it. So until we get that proper communication it’s something that I will not believe on now.

Gonda: But what if it turns out to be true? What will happen?

Moyo: I can’t be making conjectures on such issues. These are serious matters, they mean a lot. You are talking about Zimbabwe’s relationship with the SADC. SADC is the guarantor of our Political Agreement. SADC is the womb in the sub-region that we have – so we can’t be making such statements or such decisions against our own region, it would be against ourselves. So I don’t want again to make a premature statement because perhaps it’s one of those creatures of imagination of one of the journalists. I don’t believe that is true. It’s too ghastly to be true. It can’t be believable.

Gonda: But it’s not something that would be surprising given that Zanu-PF has in the past made such unilateral decisions and many analysts, legal experts feel this is happening because of the decisions, the rulings that have been made by the Tribunal in recent months concerning the activities on white commercial farms.

Moyo: It would be surprising because I expect all members of the inclusive government to act in unison, to act with one accord, to sing from the same hymn book. I’m not saying that we should be homogenous but we should have a shared understanding. Issues are brought to cabinet, issues are discussed by the members of the cabinet and decisions are made. If there are any other issues that are done outside cabinet they are done through the Principals into the inclusive government. The Principal that I work with is not aware of that, so if he is not aware of that and I am not aware of it because I am a member of cabinet, therefore I find it very difficult to comment on and to believe it and we expect everyone to be working together. We have been working together, we have problems, we have challenges but most of the time we try to consult each other and I still expect that.

Gonda: The Zimbabwe Times reported recently that the Prime Minister has agreed to the crafting of a definite course of action that will be sold to cabinet as a national strategy to fight the ‘sanctions’. Can you tell us about this?

Moyo: Indeed, we are producing or preparing a document, a discussion document on tackling international isolation. For the document we outline various key policy options that government should adopt and implement to end international isolation, to end the challenges that we are having so again I cannot pre-empt what the details of the document are but indeed a document is being prepared, it shall be debated by government through the Council of Ministers and taken to cabinet for adoption.

It’s not about sanctions per se; it’s about ending international isolation. There is international isolation in this country for a number of reasons. We are having international isolation in terms of failing to get credit lines into the country because of financial penalties, those are not sanctions, they are financial penalties. The targeted measures, those are not trade sanctions, they are not economic sanctions, those are measures against individuals in government – so we need to come up with various strategies to deal with this, to re-brand the country, to implement our political agreement, to engage the European Union, to engage Z’DERA so that we can move forward as a country. So that is going to be tabled to the Council of Ministers in route to cabinet for adoption and for policy.

Gonda: So as government are you going to be campaigning for the removal of the restrictions that affect the country only or also that affect individuals?

Moyo: I tell you that it’s not about campaigning, it’s not about what you say – it’s about what you do. So the question is we have a responsibility as government to make sure that we deal with the international isolation so there are certain things that we should do as government, it’s not about what we should say. We can stand the whole year shouting every day to say to hell with sanctions, remove your sanctions – that will not solve the problem. It would be nice to say it but those who will be saying that will be enjoying listening to themselves because no-one will be listening to them. People don’t want to just listen, people want to see things happening so our policy will be a policy that will deal with the concrete matters that will lead to making sure that the restrictive measures or sanctions are not irrelevant. So that’s what the government should do and that’s what we will be pushing government to adopt.

Gonda: And finally Mr Moyo, as MDC and in your view, are there sanctions or restrictions and what is the difference?

Moyo: In our view we have restrictive measures. Restrictive measures are different from sanctions. Sanctions mainly are economic sanctions meaning that trade between Zimbabwe and the international community is stalled, is stopped, is restricted. Trade between Zimbabwe and the United States and the United Kingdom has not been restricted at all. In fact over the past decade we have had positive trade between Zimbabwe and the United States. We have been exporting more goods to the United States than importing from them. So we do not have trade sanctions with the United States. The companies in Zimbabwe are free to trade with any country in Europe, in the European Union and the United States, so that’s not sanctions.

If we had sanctions, Zimbabwe would not be selling any of those flowers to Australia, would not be selling any of those products that we are selling to the rest of the world. But we are selling which means we do not have trade sanctions or economic sanctions. What we have are restrictive measures where individuals cannot travel to the United Kingdom, to United States or to the European Union. They have been banned. That’s what we have so those are the differences between restrictive measures and sanctions. So we need to peel off, like I said, mythology from fact so that we sort these matters and deal with them directly rather than using politics and propagandism to deal with the issues that are affecting the people. We need to go beyond rhetoric and deal factually with matters because it is factually incorrect to claim that the international community imposed trade sanctions on Zimbabwe because we are trading with them.

Gonda: You are in the same government and yet the political parties in this inclusive government see things so totally differently. Why do you think Zanu-PF says there are sanctions on Zimbabwe?

Moyo: I think your listeners should appreciate the benefit for Zanu-PF for using sanctions. If they flag sanctions every day it means they are able to condemn the west, they are able to condemn the MDC , they are able to mobilise themselves around the issues of sanctions because that’s the only thing that brings them together. So people are using sanctions. In fact it is paradoxical, by claiming that there are sanctions in Zimbabwe and not dealing with the issues that led to those sanctions it means we actually want the sanctions to stay or to remain. If truly Zanu-PF, if truly government was clear that restrictive measures or sanctions should go, we should simply implement the Global Political Agreement and there will be no sanctions. But we are not implementing. It means there are some sections of the inclusive government that are benefiting from the continued existence of these restrictive measures. They can use them to acquire either land or either farms or some companies by using this rhetoric of sanctions. That’s the paradox that we have.

Gonda: Mr Gordon Moyo thank you very much for talking on the programme Hot Seat.

Moyo: OK, thank you.

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