Sanctions: the West’s most generous gift to Zanu (PF)

Sanctions against Zimbabwe do not actually exist. Restrictions have been imposed on certain individuals who have been identified with human rights abuses.

Zanu (PF) war veterans march past the US Embassy in Harare holding placards condemning so-called sanctions in 2010 (file photo).
Zanu (PF) war veterans march past the US Embassy in Harare holding placards condemning so-called sanctions in 2010 (file photo).

While it can be argued that some of these restrictions have missed their targets and have affected individuals and companies that did not deserve to be caught in the net, these cases cannot be claimed to prove that the sanctions were applied to the whole country.

Zanu (PF) certainly does argue that sanctions are undermining the whole country’s economic recovery, but this does not mean they believe the claims to be true. Their purpose is to have everyone else believe that. By planting and nurturing this belief in the minds of Zimbabweans in particular and the world in general, Zanu (PF) believes it has found the best way to deflect the blame for the economic collapse onto others. However, the Zanu (PF) hierarchy knows very well that its own policy choices caused the damage.

It also knows that those were deliberately made so that damage would be caused. Anyone taking offence at this suggestion need only ask why the steps that arrested production across wide swathes of the productive sectors are still being fiercely defended.

Zanu (PF) is mistaken in its belief that it has fooled everyone. Even schoolchildren understand the need for investment in the job-creation process and they fully appreciate the need for investor confidence before those who have the talents needed to assemble resources and build a business will apply their skills.

The same schoolchildren are keenly aware that very few career development opportunities await them when they leave school. None of them has been deluded into thinking that sanctions are to blame.

Every existing and potential investor has been repeatedly slapped in the face, but only by Zanu (PF) officials, who are constantly trying to find ways of inflicting handicaps on the business sectors. The most discouraging “sanctions” were generated in the corridors of Zanu (PF) ministries or in the President’s Office.

Ian Scoones’ makes an entirely incorrect claim that the diplomatic aim of US and European foreign policy was to cause Zimbabwe’s isolation and turn the country into a pariah state. Zanu (PF) wanted to reduce the influence of countries that worked to higher standards of conduct, so the party sought isolation.

Pariah status came with Zanu (PF)’s failing ability to service its debts and its decreasing inclination to meet contractual obligations, while dishonestly claiming that others should be blamed.

In demanding that its “entitlement” to international assistance should be respected, Zanu (PF) has claimed that “sanctions” include the withholding of aid. The facts are very different. Assistance comes to those who are deserving of it, or to those who are the victims of events over which they had no control. Because Zanu (PF) is seen to be deserving of nothing but criticism, the considerable quantities of aid have been delivered straight to the areas and communities in need.

Zanu (PF) takes grave exception to this because the party is denied access to the funds and the assistance undermines the party’s efforts to keep as many people as possible poor enough to keep them obedient, subservient and dependent on party patronage. Poverty, therefore, is a Zanu (PF) objective for the population at large.

Where it exists already, it is to be maintained. Where prosperity has been edging upwards, that process is to be arrested by starving it of investment capital. Because investors are so sensitive to market conditions that can be so easily altered by changing the demands the investors have to meet, their influence on the affluence of individuals, or even huge communities, can be directly and quickly affected.

Zanu (PF) seems to have become enthralled at its ability to make huge differences to levels of business activity by changing a few words or numbers in a Statutory Instrument or in statute law.

Excessive wage demands can be passed off as attempts to raise wage levels, but are actually being used as powerful weapons to halt the growth of selected business sectors. Existing investors are being forced to relinquish assets in the name of indigenisation, so new industrial investors are no longer interested in Zimbabwe.

Farmers have already been forced out of business by changing the property rights laws, which had previously offered them the security of tenure needed to support business confidence and had placed bank finance within their reach.

Mining was beginning to look a bit too promising, so investment allowances have been withdrawn, registration fees and licence costs have been stepped up to ridiculously high levels and royalties have now been increased so much that only the richer mineral deposits can be profitably mined.

Zanu (PF) has deliberately made Zimbabwe’s mineral deposits less attractive. Many thousands of young people who might have had good prospects of receiving training and good incomes from the mining sector will now have to do what thousands before them had to do: leave the country to find a job.

If the downturns in business had been unintended consequences, all the changes that can be so easily identified as the origins of disastrous effects could have been reversed, but they are still being preserved and even reinforced. Zanu (PF) very clearly does not want ordinary people to enjoy increasing success.

This is simply because the party knows that they will become increasingly inclined to demand better governance and far less inclined to tolerate the appalling blend of greed, ineptitude and arrogance that has so thoroughly colonised Zanu (PF) thinking.

Naturally, Zanu (PF) has not wanted to have such accusations levelled against it, so the imposition of targeted sanctions against identified individuals has amounted to a wonderful, gift-wrapped bonus that Zanu (PF) has magnified into the one and only reason why the economy collapsed.

The puffed up egos have allowed these Zanu (PF) heavyweights to claim “we are so important to Zimbabwe that we are Zimbabwe” supports the analysis that the same individuals believe they have restored a feudal society in Zimbabwe and that everybody, foreign governments included, should defer to their unquestionable majesty and respect their absolute authority.

The economy collapsed because the market mechanisms and business relationships that were held together by civil rights, property rights, the rule of law and respect for laws of contract were trashed by the same individuals.

These features of modern society displaced the old feudal structures and transformed the world. To the extent that they could be adopted in pre-independence Zimbabwe, they transformed this country too. Zanu (PF) has made strenuous efforts to reverse the entire process and to aggressively entrench a few dozen people as the feudal overlords.

The only real mystery is why these individuals believe that the rest of the population should feel happy with the idea.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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