Alena Douhan’s assertions on Zimbabwe sanctions’ social impact gravely flawed, laughable and unscientific

The generalization of matters greatly impacting our day-to-day lives has unfortunately become a most troubling common occurrence.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

What is even worse is that, these are largely based on hypotheses, which oftentimes lack any scientific evidence – but, formulated mainly out of perceptions, assumptions, and even emotions.

For instance, has anyone really proven that those men who are committing suicide – at what is portrayed as an increased rate – had never shared (or, ‘cried’) their problems, but choosing to bottle up their feelings and pain, resulting in the difficult tragic decision to take their own lives?

Can anyone provide scientific evidence that either women – who are widely believed more open and ready to sharing their problems with others – and, those men who did the same, have a lower suicide rate?

Or, are these simply assumptions and presumptions?

Let me move on the issue of drug and alcohol abuse – which, has become a menace and cancerous pandemic in our society.

Who can prove that unemployment and lack of a means of livelihood are the key reasons for a large portion of our youth resorting to substance abuse?

What science-based evidence is there?

What can we then say about those suffering the same scourge of drug and alcohol abuse in more advanced economies as the US – whose rates are clearly much higher than a smaller nation as Zimbabwe?

What unemployment and economic challenges are driving these American youth in this destructive behavior?

It becomes even more laughable and ridiculous when a whole UN (United Nations) Special Rapporteur on the Impact of Sanctions, Alena Douhan, has the shameful audacity to allege that the high prevalence of drug and substance abuse in the country is a result of restrictive measures imposed by Western countries on a few Zimbabwean top officials and entities.

Surely, can Douhan – who is supposed to be a professor – reconcile the link between travel bans and financial freezes on several individuals and companies (fingered in human rights abuses and corruption in Zimbabwe), and our youth turning to crystal methamphetamine, marijuana, or illicit alcoholic beverages?

In fact, in her long rambling report, no where did she actually provide any substantiated evidence connecting these sanctions and the economic disaster that has been experienced in the southern African country for the past two decades.

All her assertions about investors failing to do business with Zimbabwe, out of fear of falling foul to these restrictive measures, and any potential subsequent punishment from Western countries, is at best, a whole bunch of assumptions – as there was never any indications that she actually consulted those companies apparently apprehensive over investing in the country.

So, where did she draw those conclusions?

For example, if one is to boldly declare that Zimbabweans do not participate in demonstrations against their government is as a result of the terror of a brutal response by security forces – it should logically mean that, he actually communicated with those people who were reluctant to participate in such mass action.

Failure of which would render his findings deeply flawed, and based on hearsay and presumptions.

As a parting shot, let me just inform Douhan that, I also had problems with alcohol – which, thankfully I managed to overcome by the grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet, it would be the height of dishonesty and disingenuousness for me to claim that my choice to submerge myself in this destructive behavior was due to unemployment and economic hardships.

Never!

In my case, I would like to believe it was primarily due to a seriously diminished and damaged self-esteem – as I had always found it most difficult mixing and interacting with groups of people – such that, the immense pressure to fit in, and comfortable in socializing, pushed me into seeking Dutch courage.

As an only child, I had always been an introvert – more at home in my own personal space, and non-social situations – maybe, which explains my natural inclination and love for writing, since that is how I feel more comfortable expressing my thoughts.

In a nutshell, there are a million and one reasons why people end up in unenviable predicaments, such as alcohol and drug abuse – and, each has to be examined on its own merits, if ever we genuinely desire to fight this pandemic.

In actual fact, from my owm experience, I strongly believe that any one who feels the need for a sip or two (or puff or two) – regardless of how little – for a boost to ‘have fun’ or ‘a good time’, should seek help, since a mind that is not troubled should never required any ‘outside help’ to feel good.

Therefore, generalizations based on assumptions, presumptions and even emotions are very dangerous, and obviously, do not help our communities – least of all, the affected and effected – and, can actually worsen an already dire situation.

The same applies to the issue of these sanctions we are fond of talking about in Zimbabwe.

As long as we prefer rhetoric and wild unsubstantiated claims – that are largely unproven – will only work against the speedy revival of our economy, since we would expend our efforts and attention on the wrong diagnosis.

We need to face the truth – no matter how unpalatable and hard to swallow – as medicine is always bitter.

● 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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