Pillay got one thing wrong

Navi Pillay, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, had a fairly successful sojourn in Zimbabwe and was spot on in much of her analysis. But she got it wrong on the targeted sanctions imposed on Zanu (PF) human rights abusers by the West a decade ago.

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

The collapse of our economy and consequent suffering of the majority of Zimbabweans started well before the selective restrictions on individuals and companies aligned to Zanu (PF) were decreed.

Our position, which we have consistently maintained and substantiated with fact, is that the targeted sanctions had nothing to do with the people’s suffering. The buck for that should squarely stop at President Robert Mugabe’s door.

Prior to the establishment of the Government of National Unity, the Zanu (PF) government brought the country to its knees through mis-governance, corruption, patronage and the willful destruction of the agricultural industry, which was the backbone of industry.

We have always been in agreement with the position that the thousands of land hungry Zimbabweans needed to be resettled. The main problem was with the manner in which the programme was conducted.

It is now very clear that Zanu (PF) hurried to eject commercial farmers as a knee-jerk reaction to the emergence of the MDC, and used the redistribution as a populist strategy to preserve the political power it had for a long time taken for granted, and abused.

Fast forward to 2012, and the party is still in the same destructive mode. With a crucial election looming, the party is still insisting on a primitive black empowerment exercise that, in reality, is characterized by the same greed and corruption as that which tainted the fast-track land “reform” programme.

Just as the fat cats took most of the fertile land and condemned the hapless communal farmers to rocky and unyielding plots, they will once again take the stakes from foreign-owned companies in a lame simulation of indigenisation.

But who does not know the effect that this is having on investor confidence? Which investor in his or her right mind would proceed to pour millions of dollars into a business venture that could be grabbed at any time? If investors don’t come in, what does that have to do with targeted sanctions?

Who does not know that despite the targeted sanctions, Zimbabwean businesses have always been able to trade internationally, even with companies in the US and EU? When the Zanu (PF)-owned Zidco, for example, fails to trade because of the sanctions, to what extent does that impact the national economy?

Yes, people have been retrenched by the companies aligned to Zanu (PF) because of viability problems, but why should the sanctions be blamed for the collapse of David Whitehead or Ziscosteel that were never on the sanctions list?

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
  1. Wilbert Mukori

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