I’m quite convinced even regional leaders laughing behind Mnangagwa’s back!

On his return from the state funeral of late Angolan president, Eduardo dos Santos - who was laid to rest yesterday - Zimbabwe President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa repeated his claim how such leaders as dos Santos supported the calls for the "removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe".

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


I found myself wondering just how exactly these leaders – mostly in the southern African region, who even declared the 25th October of each year as a ‘SADC Against Sanctions Day’ – have ‘supported’ Zimbabwe, besides issuing occasional drab, unconvincing half-hearted statements, clearly uttered more as a matter of obligation and loyalty towards their Zimbabwe counterparts, than a sincere belief in the existence of these ‘sanctions’.

In what meaningful, concrete and practical manner have these regional countries actually exhibited, not only a willingness to ‘assist’ Zimbabwe traverse this supposed sanctions terrain, but also as a sign of a genuine conviction that these restrictive measures were even real?

It is one thing merely regurgitating some monotonous drivel, merely as a form of expected solidarity with a friend – and completely another matter actually believing in what you are saying, and taking discernable action in this regard.

In the case of these alleged ‘sanctions on Zimbabwe imposed by the West’ vis a vis the subsequent reaction of southern African leaders, as far as I can perceive, none of them truly accept this yarn.

Our neighbours may be too cowardly to speak truth to the Harare administration, but they are certainly not fools – and, can easily tell when they are being fed a whole load of bull!

Southern African leaders’ actions or inaction regarding this sanctions story is ample evidence that they are fully aware of the real reasons the economy in Zimbabwe is crying, and on its knees – resulting in millions of the country’s citizens wallowing in extreme poverty and suffering, leading to an influx of largely illegal immigrants into neighbouring countries.

They know very well that the authors of the unimaginable misery and anguish ordinary Zimbabweans are going through are those in power – who have chosen the route of plunder and pillaging of the nation’s resources, coupled with unbelievable mismanagement and incompetence.

These regional leaders are intelligent enough to decipher that, the reason our health care institutions are poorly equipped (even lacking basic essentials as paracetamol, and anesthetic, whilst cancer patients have to wait for death in excruciating agony, as all radiotherapy machines are dysfunctional) – yet, the country is endowed with some of the world’s most sought-after mineral wealth, including diamonds, gold, and platinum – is the grand unashamed looting by the ruling elite.

Let us remember that, our neighbours are similarly blessed with more or less the same natural resources as we are – but, in spite of their own struggles, are at least able to sustain a stable economy, and provide a level of dignified services (no wonder our nationals flock there) – and as such, do not buy this nonsensical tall tale of ‘sanctions’ being the cause.

If these leaders were convinced that some restrictive measures were responsible for their neighbour’s intolerable impoverishment and torment – then, they would have jumped in, a long time ago, to save the day.

Lest we forget, these supposed ‘economic sanctions’ were imposed in 2001 – which in actual fact, are targeted travel restrictions on a few high ranking officials, and asset freezes on some entities fingered in gross human rights violations and rampant corruption.

They have done this before!

As a matter of fact, previous colonial administrations in the region, swiftly came to the rescue of the Ian Douglas Smith Rhodesia regime – after the UN (United Nations) imposed a crippling trade embargo on the landlocked country, as a result of the UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) from Britain on 11 November 1965.

Countries such as Mozambique, then ruled by the Portuguese, and apartheid South Africa played a critical role in ensuring that these comprehensive economy sanctions were busted – thereby, enable the Rhodesia administration to keep going, relatively unscathed

I have a book, ‘Sanctions Double-Cross – Oil to Rhodesia’ by Jorge Jardim – which articulately chronicles, in a most detailed and meticulous manner, how exactly these two countries, with the complicity of some multinational companies, successfully aided Rhodesia circumvent the tough restrictions, such as the speedy construction of links to ports, as well as an oil pipeline and refinery.

In the end, the ordinary people of this country went about their daily business, with virtually scant knowledge that there were any such sanctions imposed on the country – save for occasional fuel shortages, which I still remember even though I was still a little child.

Without going into the nitty-gritties, which are totally unnecessary for this discourse – the fact still remains, if these alleged ‘sanctions against Zimbabwe’ were believable, then regional leaders would have promptly stepped in – by enabling means and ways for Harare to go around these measures, as well as assisting in other forms.

As it turns out, they are fed-up with our nationals being in their countries – as exhibited recently by the rantings by Limpopo provincial health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba berating a Zimbabwean patient who had sought medical attention at a Bela Bela hospital, and of course, more importantly, the decision by South African authorities not to renew hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs).

Why have these regional countries not come to Zimbabwe’s aid?

The answer is quiet simple

There are simply no significant economic sanctions to talk about imposed on the country – as such, how exactly are they expected to assist, besides issuing an insincere and unconvincing statement here and there?

In fact, I am fully convinced that, these regional leaders – knowing fully well that the plethora of economic challenges bedevilling millions of ordinary suffering Zimbabweans, are as a direct consequence of the ruling elite’s own incredible inaptitude and disgraceful looting of resources – are laughing at our leaders behind their backs.

How else are we to think?

Just imagine Mnangagwa being in Luanda for dos Santos’ state funeral.

Honestly, what were the regional leaders present saying about our country, in the absence of our leadership – considering that Zimbabwe is always making news headlines for all the wrong reasons?

Does anyone sincerely expect them to attribute our poverty and lack to some ‘economic sanctions’, and empathize with Mnangagwa – which they have already proven do not believe even truly exist?

What is more tragic, though, is this pretence and sickening sense of loyalty by these regional leaders towards each other – as opposed to standing with the oppressed suffering masses – which has led to these empty solidarity messages, instead of taking a firm uncompromising stance against the Zimbabwe regime, for its anti-people and counter-revolutionary behavior.

As it is undeniable that they do not buy this ‘sanctions’ yarn, and clearly fingered the Mnangagwa administration for the unbearable mess Zimbabweans find themselves submerged – as shown by statements uttered by top South African officials, including Ramathuba (who openly identified the octogenarian leader as the cause of the hospitalized lady’s desperate plight) – why are they not directly confronting the perpetrators, but rather choosing to bury their heads in the sand?

Surely, as their own countries are being over-burdened by the exodus of mostly illegal immigrants, badly in need of a semblance of a decent livelihood – would the logical thing to do not be to take decisive action against the Zimbabwe regime – as opposed to lying about believing the cock-and-bull story about sanctions?

It is high time that ordinary citizens of those southern African countries – especially, South Africa, which is bearing the brunt of the economic maladministration in Zimbabwe – took their own governments to task over their passive appeasement policies towards the heinous Mnangagwa regime, since failure to adopt such an unflinching stance, will mean the continued influx of immigrants.

These countries citizens’ energies and resources would be better spent demanding their own governments pressured their Zimbabwe counterparts into implementing meaningful economic and political reforms – instead of wasting their precious time fighting immigrants, since these will always be crossing the border (more illegally, now that the ZEPs are being scrapped).

Expending their energies on what are clearly symptoms of a deeper governance crisis in Zimbabwe – instead of confronting the cause – is purely myopic and foolish, since it will never yield the desired results.

Instead of just laughing at the Mnangagwa administration behind his back – the more rational action would be to tell him in his face – to stop his looting, respect citizens’ rights, and implement sound economic policies.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]

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