Sanctions did not fall from heaven, they have a purpose!

OPINION – In 2000 there was a wave of strikes at boarding schools in Masvingo province as students demanded better treatment.

\r\n

At Mutendi High School, authorities responded by sending a troop of church brass band members to ruthlessly deal with the students. The striking students were beaten into submission and returned to class in 2 days. At Gutu High School, they responded by locking all the kitchens for 4 days. Eventually students out of hunger returned to class. Those who have been in the struggle for democracy appreciate the limited options that we have had to deal with a rogue and brutal system that we have in our country. One option that has been partially explored is that of sanctions on ZANU PF regime.

\r\n

Many a time we have been confronted by half-baked assertions especially by ZANU PF on the legality and relevance of sanctions to Zimbabwe. Since ZANU PF finds sanctions a convenient scapegoat, it is important to explore this issue so they are reminded that they are in a pit they dug for themselves and only they can extricate themselves.

Were sanctions justified?

On 24 March 1990, a few days before the general elections, CIO operatives Elias Kanengoni and Kizito Chivamba pumped seven shot into Patrick Kombayi who was then contesting against Simon Muzenda in Gweru. They were both convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail. Robert Mugabe moved swiftly and pardoned them. Today Elias Kanengoni is the Central Intelligence Organisation’s Deputy Director General (Internal) – one of the most powerful persons in Zimbabwe.

\r\n

During the 2000 elections, ZANU PF terrorized MDC supporters at the instigation of their party’s leadership. Many people were killed, maimed or injured. No justice was done rather in his wisdom or lack of it, Robert Mugabe gave a blanket amnesty to the murderers and thugs.

\r\n

CIO operative Joseph Mwale is alleged to have led a group of Zanu PF supporters who petrol-bombed Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya two aides of the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the run-up to the 2000 general election. Webster Gwama, Bernard Makuwe and Morris Cainos (Kitsiyatota) were indicted for the same murder in 2004 but seven years on no justice has been served. Who knows maybe they are busy killing and maiming more people!

We have cases of Batanai Hadzidzi who was killed by police at the University of Zimbabwe in 2001 and Lameck Chemvura another UZ student who in the same year was thrown out of a moving train by soldiers. No one was ever held accountable for that by the system.

One Professor Jonathan Moyo once said this statement in reference to the Daily News; “It is now only a matter of time before Zimbabweans put a final stop to this madness in defence of their cultural interest and national security” , 48hrs later the printing-press of the Daily News was bombed and extensively destroyed. That was in January 2001.

\r\n

Let us not forget the chaotic land grabs that was going on during the same period. Even if the white farmers were perceived as enemies of ZANU PF, there was no justification for use of violence on them. So in the face of such violence and blatant disregard of human life what options did the opposition have?

\r\n

Are Sanctions hurting ordinary Zimbabweans?

Frankly, the answer is yes but not in the manner that ZANU goes about claiming. We need to consult the wording of  Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of2001, Canada’s Special Economic Measures (Zimbabwe) Regulations or European Union(Zimbabwe) (Financial Sanctions) Regulations.  Section 6 of ZIDERA is clear on who these sanctions are targeting- individuals responsible for the deliberate breakdown of the rule of law, politically motivated violence, and intimidation in Zimbabwe. These are subject to travel bans and economic sanctions. The EU and Canada regulations are even more particular about military trade with Zimbabwe. The fact that ZANU PF government does not have access to privileges at IMF and Multilateral Development Banks should not be attributed to MDC but rather to its own doing. Section 4(a) of ZIDERA itself chronicles the events and reasons that led to enacting the law.

The reason why sanctions on targeted individuals seem to be affecting the whole of Zimbabwe is that these individuals own virtually every non-foreign business in the country. They own the big companies in Zimbabwe. ZANU PF has been using parastatals and other big companies to fund itself as witnessed by the demise of Zisco steel. State Enterprises were used to fund its elections and to maintain a violent grip on the country. Therefore, they deserved to be on the sanctions list. 

ZANU PF had access to capital and thus most local businesses had to have a link with individuals associated with the party. So indeed if a company owned by Phillip Chiyangwa or Mujuru was importing car parts from Germany and supplying them to Mr Gudoshava’s  shop in Kadoma  and was placed under sanctions, Mr Gudoshava would not have parts to sale translating to a shortage in Kadoma. Does that make the sanctions sweeping?

\r\n

Let us remember sanctions are there for a purpose, it is not the intention of those who instituted them to see innocent Zimbabweans suffering rather the pain we go through is the same pain that we go through when a syringe enters your buttocks to enable medicine to target disease-causing organisms residing within the body!

Are they still necessary?

The question we ought to ask ourselves is whether ZANU PF’s behaviour has changed since the inception of these sanctions.

In 2002 just before the Presidential elections, General Vitalis Zvinavashe flanked by other service chiefs declared that they would not salute anyone without liberation war credentials. This was a clear contempt of civilian rule. Over the years, Chihuri and other securocrats have made the same statements.

\r\n

Harassment of opposition supporters has not stopped. We only have to look at treason trials that have occurred since then to get insight. The democratic space has shrunk further with the blatant involvement of military establishments in civilian politics.

Mr Mugabe’s henchmen killed more than 200 innocent MDC supporters including Tonderai Ndira, Tapiwa Mbwanda, Murunde Tembo, Tatenda Chibika, Moses Bashitwayo, Solomon Bote, Brighton Mabwera, Zvidzai Mapurisa, Tabitha Marume, Tenos Manyimo, Bigboy Zhuwawo, Chrispen Chiutsi and Clemence Dube. As usual, Mugabe gave a blanket amnesty to the killers.

We also bore witness to enforced disappearances, torture and brutality on Jestina Mukoko, Gandi Mudzingwa, Andrison Manyere, Chinoto Zulu, Chris Dhlamini and more than 40 other people in 2008-09.

\r\n

More recently, we have seen the paranoid regime lay its hands on Munyaradzi Gwisai and others for discussing events in Egypt. We have a case of a Facebook blogger being charged with treason for writing on Tsvangirai’s Facebook wall. Douglas Mwonzora spent days in jail on trumped up charges. We also have Paul Siwela who was recently arrested and charged with treason. All these are machinations by ZANU PF to deal with opposition.

\r\n

So as relevant as they were at inception sanctions remain today.

 
Are targeted sanctions effective?

Partly yes, partly no.  Even if ZANU PF’s behaviour has not significantly changed, there are indications that they have done enough to limit the economic activity of ZANU PF-linked enterprises. This is important in that it has limited the ability of ZANU PF to fund its activities, which usually translate into bloody efforts to exterminate political opponents.

\r\n

Unfortunately, like one of the AAG leaders alluded to me recently, ZANU PF has put in place elaborate sanctions-bursting mechanisms that involve China. Whereas it has been our expectation that ZANU PF-linked enterprises should not benefit from transactions with the Western bloc, they have been able to use Chinese banks to clean up the dirty money especially from diamonds.

\r\n

In future if ZANU PF’s intransigence continues, I will not hesitate to call upon our neighbouring countries to institute tougher and sweeping sanctions on the regime.

\r\n

So are sanctions evil?

It depends on the side that you are. I bet if one was a Philistine during the time of Samson, he would describe him as evil. How else can one describe the act of sending foxes with torches through the fields of other people? Nevertheless, because his was a mission against evil, we celebrate his deeds. Therefore, it is with sanctions. In December 1966 when UN at the instigation of Britain instituted economic sanctions on Rhodesia that eventually assisted in the fall of Smith, how many within ZANU or ZAPU felt the sanctions were evil?  So what has changed now?

\r\n

The argument that the sanctions are illegal because they are not UN-instituted is neither here nor there because each country has a right to dictate its foreign policy just like how ZANU PF decided to unilaterally withdraw from the Commonwealth. So to ZANUPF plunderers sanctions are evil, but to us who wish to see the country’s wealth exploited transparently and to the benefit of everybody we say, they are helping to reduce plunder.

\r\n

In the face of rogue elements going about killing and maiming defenceless people simply to cling onto power there are only two options; either to do something or to do nothing. In doing something there are two options again, either to confront the regime militarily or to use other means to weaken it. Like at Mutendi High School, USA, France and other countries decided to defend civilians though direct confrontation in the case of Libya, but like the authorities at Gutu High School; they decided to confront the rogue Zimbabwe regime through targeted sanctions. If ZANU PF continues to behave like baboons at a samba party, more is in store for them!

\r\n