Lift Sanctions on Zimbabwe

On Thursday, Dec 24 2009 Robert Mugabe said that there had been tremendous improvement under the Zimbabwe unity government, despite sanctions. He was speaking at a rare joint press conference, with his one-time rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Theses two leaders have insisted that there was no going back on the power-sharing arrangement, despite a yearlong dispute over a raft of political appointments.

"There is tremendous improvement to the political environment," Mugabe said. "People have heeded our calls for peace."

It is with this in mind that Zimbabwe now calls for an end of the imposed sanctions. There seems to be tangible lasting peace system in Zimbabwe. The rest of the international community should now show its good faith by removing the sanctions which are hurting the country. The Zimbabwean political arch rivals have now narrowed their differences.

The central task to ensure economic development in Zimbabwe is to put an end to the hostile sanctions against the Zimbabwean people.

The Zimbabwe inclusive government has been operational, albeit with problems, from February 2009. It is indeed a marriage of convenience, however, without it, Zimbabwe would have slid further into the depths of poverty.

There is, therefore, a semblance of democracy. Where there are two or more political parties involved, there are bound to be differences, and these will be with Zimbabwe for a long time to come. It is understandable that each party would want to promote its own interests, with or without guile.

With this in mind, it is time the sanctions were reviewed, in line with the new political dispensation. This is a call to the European Union and to the United States of America on behalf of the inclusive government of Zimbabwe that sanctions imposed on country be lifted.

The "smart sanctions" which are targeted at specific persons and state controlled organisations were intended to put pressure directly on those who are deemed to pose a threat to human rights.

These are supposed to be formulated in such a way as to minimise their impact upon the well-being of the civilian population, but the reality on the ground in Zimbabwe begs a different story. It is the increasing concern for the humanitarian welfare of the people of Zimbabwe, at home and abroad, that the sanctions be lifted.

Sanctions are cruel because they punish solely the Zimbabwean people and more so the weakest among them. These are largely ineffective since they do not hit the intended persons as they find ways of circumventing the same.

The objectives of the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe were to ensure the departure of the de facto ZANU-PF authorities and the restoration of the legitimate institutions in Zimbabwe. The current government of Zimbabwe is indeed legitimate, as democracy is now being openly facilitated.

The concern that a climate of fear of persecution and economic dislocation is now decreasing, thus reducing the number of Zimbabweans seeking refuge in neighboring states and abroad. This should have positive repercussions on the international field and more on the southern African region as a whole.

In 2003, when the sanctions were being imposed slowly and systematically, I was aware that the common person was bearing the brunt, rather than the intended persons of Mugabe’s government. The hardships affected Zimbabweans from all walks of life, and continue to do so even up to this day.

There is need to have industry resuscitated so that our people can get jobs, and get the economy ticking once again. The removal of sanctions will play a bigger role in sustaining inclusive government and usher a period of hope for the people of Zimbabwe.

The European Union and the United States must understand the need to bring Zimbabwe back into the international fold, and allow and assist in the return of those Zimbabweans who would want to go back to their motherland. Exiles don’t want to go back home only to face the wrath of sanctions.

What Zimbabwe needs is a revival of the economy, which requires an injection of cash and foreign investment. Mugabe is no longer as belligerent as he was in the past, certainly this should help in the quest for a long lasting solution.

The average Zimbabwean cannot afford imported consumer goods. Some parts of the government of National Unity have their intransigence reinforced by what they perceive as British and American arrogance, and the conviction that the US has no intention of removing sanctions while Robert Mugabe is in power.

It is hoped that the sanity prevailing in the Ministry of Finance at the moment will translate into measures that ensure state-owned enterprises are not abused by politicians.

It is accepted that there are a few disputes, which will soon be ironed out. That said, Zimbabwe needs a break now.

Lifting of sanctions will surely be fast-track route to the long awaited sustainable economic growth in Zimbabwe.

It is agreed that among the 4 million Zimbabweans in exile, many of them have skills, and influence which would benefit Zimbabwe once the sanctions are lifted. That said, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai recognizes and values Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and the critical role they can and should play in bolstering sustainable economic growth in Zimbabwe, but he has not been forceful in calling for the end to sanctions. It should not be when it suits his party, but when it suits the country.