Gabriel Shumba: what sanctions?

aid_workers_offloadPRETORIA -- Mugabe now takes every public speech to wail about the unjustness of the target sanctions. Travel bans, asset freezes and a ban on the sale of arms to the government of Zimbabwe are being termed targeted sanctions by Zanu (PF), said Gabriel Shumba, executive director of the Pretoria-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF). (Pictured: Offloading ai

However, these restrictions affect only family members, friends and corrupt business associates of the former ruling party, he explained. As such, they must remain in place until there is visible rule of law, together with non-partisan institutions that safeguard our democracy and respect the right to life and the dignity of all Zimbabweans, he said. Shumba, a human rights lawyer, pointed out that the restrictions have had no impact on the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance from the United States and the European Union to Zimbabwe.

According to the United Nations, approximately three million of Zimbabwes population are dependent on food aid for survival, a factor that ZEF blames on ill-advised and corrupt agrarian reforms. Humanitarian assistance, which has previously been channelled through civil society, has instead been hampered in its delivery by government restrictions on the operations of NGOs, said Shumba. Zanu (PF)s preoccupation with the lifting of so-called illegal sanctions, which would enable the approximately 250 people on the list to indulge in shopping expeditions when the nation needs every cent for food and basic services is outrageous, he said. The individuals on the list have done nothing that might persuade the US and Europe to lift them, he added.

However, following demands made on the MDC by the Zanu (PF) Politiburo to call for an end to sanctions, the state-owned Herald newspaper was quick to respond in its leader of August 17. We hail the resolution made by the Zanu (PF) Politburo calling on the MDC formations to honour their part of the bargain instead of making endless demands without ceding anything, a stance that implies a sinister motive, the newspaper commented. The Herald would do well to remember that the lifting of targeted sanctions is the prerogative of the countries that imposed them, argued Shumba. The MDC as a party or any civil society organisation for that matter has no capacity to enforce the lifting of these restrictions.

The US and EU have said repeatedly that they will lift restrictions only once certain minimum criteria, including the restoration of the rule of law and the transformation of institutions, are met. The restrictions Zanu (PF) is so desperate to see lifted are as follows: The US refuses to allow the 250 people on their list to visit their country. They have also banned the sale of weapons of war to Zimbabwe and Americans are not allowed to trade with specified Zanu (PF)-controlled local companies. Canada has banned arms exports to Zimbabwe, frozen the assets of top Zimbabwean officials and banned Zimbabwean aircraft from Canadian airspace. The EU restrictions, linked to the former governments abuse of an EU election observer, are milder: 160 people may not visit EU countries, there is an arms embargo and a prohibition on technical or financial assistance to the military. The only bright light in this sorry tale of Zanu (PF) greed and deception is that some of its ministers most likely those currently without direct access to illicit funds – must be struggling to maintain their lavish lifestyles on US$150 a month, concluded Shumba.

Post published in: Politics

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