Over the last two decades we had to endure the torturous repetitious propaganda of supposed ‘economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe’ by Western countries, most particularly the US – with the malevolent intention of ‘making the economy scream’, so as to ‘separate the people from the ZANU PF government’.
This severely and deliberately distorted narrative has been the core element of the ruling ZANU PF party’s shameless excuses for its unmitigated failures and abysmal ruination of both the country’s economy, and millions of ordinary Zimbabweans’ livelihoods.
In the same vein, the alleged ‘collusion’ between the main opposition in the country, with these ‘nefarious’ Western nations – in the calling, formulation and implementing of these punitive measures on ‘Zimbabwe’ – has been a handy tool in justifying the relentless savage, and oftentimes murderous, crackdown of any voices of dissent and opposition.
The ZANU PF regime has disingenuously legitimized this barbaric repression as some form of quashing ‘illegal regime change machinations’ – designed to remove a constitutionally elected government, and replacing it with ‘puppets of the West’ – effectively returning the country to colonial rule.
Yet, in all this, never has an iota of incontrovertible evidence ever been proffered as to either, how exactly these supposed ‘economic sanctions’ were harming the country’s economy – or, in what way has the main opposition been a part of the imposition and implementation of such coercive measures, and attempts at any ‘illegal regime change’.
As a matter of fact, had there been ample indisputable evidence to support these wild claims – all those involved would have long since been convicted by a competent court of law for anything from economic sabotage, treason, subverting constitutional government, and even sedition (all carrying possible life sentences).
However, not a single opposition leader has ever been convicted – in spite of the endless arrests of human rights and opposition activists, on mostly spurious charges, with none ever been found guilty – yet, repeatedly denied their constitutional right to bail, and forced to languishing in prison for prolonged periods of time, with their trials seldom taking off the ground, or dragging on for years.
We are actually seeing the ZANU PF regime pushing for the enactment of a Patriotic Act – ostensibly targeted at those ‘working in cahoots with foreign governments in disparaging one’s own country, and calling for sanctions’.
Why hurry in promulgating new legislation, when current statutes are already in place, and sufficient, in dealing with such alleged ‘nefarious elements’ – had these accusations been true?
One other important thing to note is that – ZANU PF is the only party that has actually been involved in ‘illegal regime change’ in this country – after the military coup d’etat in November 2017, which toppled long-term dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe, and the subsequent questionable party central committee meeting that installed Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa as the new president.
Which is why this matter is currently before the courts – having been brought forward by ZANU PF member, Sybeth Musengezi.
I always find it weirdly funny how Mugabe used to rant and rave on and on, over alleged schemes by the main opposition to ‘illegally remove him from power’ – yet, completely oblivious to the fact that his own lieutenants in his own ZANU PF, were the ones plotting his downfall.
Nonetheless, despite totally and unashamedly failing to prove any tangible evidence-based link between these assumed ‘economic sanctions’, and the destruction of our economy – the president himself has been the inadvertent demystifier of this two-decade myth.
None of the proponents of this ‘economic sanctions’ narrative has ever bothered clarifying how mere travel bans, assets freezes and trade restrictions on a handful of individuals and entities has led to regular three-digit annual inflation rates, or similarly three or four-digit exchange rates between the local currency and the greenback.
No one has ever explained how 7.1 million Zimbabweans earning less than US$1.90 a day (classified as extreme poverty), or over 80 percent of the adult workforce’s salaries well below the poverty datum line, and millions of children not accessing nutritional food – is a result of these restrictive measures.
All we have continually heard are generalizations (or, at the very best, purely unconvincing circumstantial presumptions) – whereby, everything that has gone wrong, or is going wrong, or can go wrong, is simply blamed on ‘sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe’.
Of course, two of the often regurgitated claims have been the withdrawal of credit lines from global lenders, and the apprehension by international corporates to invest in Zimbabwe, in fear of running foul of these sanctions.
For starters, we all know precisely why no loans are coming – since the country still owes over US$13.5 billion to multilateral financial institutions, bilateral partners, and other creditors.
Surely, how many of us are prepared to continue leading money to someone who never pays back?
The Zimbabwe government’s sanctions tall tale was shamefully parroted by various presidents, especially from the southern African region, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Impact of Sanctions Alena Douhan – the former, as they delivered presentations at the ongoing 77th UN General Assembly, in New York, US.
Nevertheless, Mnangagwa was soon to discredit all these people’s claims.
During the same UN General Assembly, our state-controlled media did not waste any moment megaphoning and celebrating how the president had met ‘several high profile US business leaders, who expressed interest investing in Zimbabwe’!
Well, if there are sanctions in place, specifically intended at prohibiting such investments, why were we shown ‘several high profile US business leaders, who expressed interest investing in Zimbabwe’?
Are we to assume that they are deliberately defying their own government – and, are prepared to risk the billions they are earning in their US base, simply for the sake of doing business with Zimbabwe?
None of these business moguls ever reached those levels of success by making such insane and illogical decisions.
What this, nonetheless, shows is that – there is absolutely no danger for any US national (or, from any country) to do business with Zimbabwe, even in the presence of these restrictive measures, such as ZIDERA (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act).
In fact, based on the name of this ‘sanctions law’, US businesses should be encouraged to work with Zimbabwe, in order to foster ‘economic recovery’.
Do we not already have the likes of equipment manufacturer John Deere freely operating in Zimbabwe, and being an integral part of the agricultural industry – without reports of any threats from their own US government for such investments?
Is it, then, not clear that the only forbidden business is with those few individuals and entities listed on the sanctions list – whose impact and effects can never, and should never, be felt by the rest of the country?
I am very grateful to Mnangagwa for finally demystifying this two-decade long myth – which has gone on for far too long – whose misrepresentation had been abused to shield the ZANU PF administration from its unforgivable destruction of both the country and our lives.
Now that the lie has been disproved, the people of Zimbabwe can finally move on, with a shared vision, in fighting the real cause of our unimaginable poverty and suffering…the shocking looting of our national resources by the political elite, which is costing us billions of dollars each year.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]