Sanctions integral part of Zimbabwe’s history

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By Dr Tafataona Mahoso

IN the last instalment, I asked whether the story of Western sanctions is now taught in schools as an integral feature of Zimbabwe’s recent history.
This story is relevant for political studies, development studies, economic history and international relations.
The reasons such a history must be taught should be obvious from the following facts, for instance:
As soon as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) succeeded in its invitation to Britain, the US and the EU to impose illegal racist sanctions on Zimbabwe, that political formation began to claim that the economic hardships which people suffered as a result of the sanctions were solely the result of the Government’s corruption and mismanagement of the economy.
The question was never answered why the economy would start to deteriorate so fast only after the imposition of sanctions around 2000-2002, when, in fact, ZANU-PF Government was in power from April 1980?
Then, when the MDC agreed to talk to ZANU-PF during the 2007-2008 SADC-brokered dialogue, the Government put the challenge to the MDC that, if it really believed that the people of Zimbabwe were suffering so many economic hardships not because of Western financial and economic sanctions but because of the state’s mismanagement, ZANU-PF and the MDC should jointly condemn those sanctions and jointly demand that they be lifted immediately. Such a joint patriotic effort would remove an explanation which the MDC claimed to be a lie and an excuse for corruption and incompetence; and the people would then see for themselves that, for sure, their hardships were due to ZANU-PF mismanagement and corruption alone and not due to the MDC-invited sanctions.
The MDC agreed to this challenge in South Africa in 2008 but soon reneged on that agreement, precisely because both the MDC and its sponsors, in fact, knew, as they still know, that the sanctions have caused havoc in the lives of the people and that if a joint MDC-ZANU-PF campaign were to be launched, there would be devastating effects on local and international political fortunes, including the following:
First, the joint campaign now backed by SADC, would remind the people of the MDC’s past campaigns inviting the same sanctions in 2000 and 2001. The voters would easily remember that it was MDC which invited sanctions upon the people.
Second, the economy would start to improve much faster, if the MDC’s sponsors indeed lifted the sanctions, and the credit would go to ZANU-PF and to other consistent opponents of the same sanctions.
Third, an open, all-Zimbabwean call for the removal of the sanctions would embarrass Britain, the US and the EU, who might respond by cutting off funding to the MDC.
Fourth, a fast economic recovery would not only entrench ZANU-PF in power but also make the agrarian revolution produce wonderful results much faster, thereby causing other peoples who want their land back in South Africa and Namibia to demand it more forcefully now.
Finally, any hope by the MDC and its sponsors to use hunger and economic hardship to influence future elections would be dashed for good.
So, despite its earlier agreement in SA in 2008, the MDC has reneged on its pledge to join ZANU-PF in denouncing the illegal and racist sanctions and demanding their immediate removal.
In fact, the main successor to the MDC formations, the MDC Alliance, has gone further than reneging on the pledge to fight sanctions.
As part of its response to ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ and to the new dispensation in 2017-2018, it sent delegations to the US administration of President Donald Trump and to the EU to ask for the renewal and intensification of the sanctions.
Therefore, the current MDC Alliance position on sanctions is diametrically opposed to the desire of the majority and to the position of both SADC and the African Union (AU).
This is the Zimbabwe story which needs to be told over and over again as SADC marks October 25 as its anti-sanctions day.
Stop the lying:
The media effort to misrepresent British, the US and the EU sanctions on Zimbabwe as just ‘travel bans’ started in 2000 when the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) was still a Bill in the US Congress.
The spokesperson for the MDC, the late Learnmore Jongwe appeared with me on ZTV’s ‘Talking Business’ programme on July 15 2001, where he swore that ZDERA was just a declaration of targeted travel bans with no effect on the economy or the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe.
Another former MDC-T spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, repeated exactly the same lie seven years later on ZTV’s programme ‘Zimbabwe Today’ on May 21 2008.
Lawyer Douglas Mwonzora, of the same party, repeated the same lie on the same ZTV programme on June 1 2008; followed by another lawyer and MDC supporter Obert Gutu on the same ZTV programme on June 8 2008.
Gutu was followed by MDC-T’s economic advisor Tapiwa Mashakada who repeated the very same claims on the same ZTV programmed on August 3 2008.
On November 7 2008, the lie took a different turn.
It was repeated on behalf of the MDC formations by the Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Sten Rylander on ZTV’s ‘Talking Business’ programme where Rylander was the sole unchallenged guest.
I need not state that former UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe Andrew Pocock and former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell also repeated the same lie over several years.
On June 15 2010, ZTV’s ‘Melting Pot’ programme invited Sydney Chisi, of Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe (CCZ), who proceeded to help the Anglo-Saxon axis by supporting its efforts to redefine the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme’s (KPCS) meaning of the term ‘blood diamonds’. This redefinition was being demanded in order to be applied, apartheid-style, to Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamonds alone and therefore block their certification.
That redefinition effort failed finally in Washington in June 2012.
On June 29 2010 ZTV’s ‘Melting Pot’ programme again invited Dhewa Mavhinga (another lawyer) of the same Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe to justify the corrupt and disgraceful manner in which the KPC meeting in Tel-Aviv was sabotaged by the US, Canada, Australia and NGOs such as Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, Global Witness, Partnership African Canada, and Human Rights Watch on behalf of the international diamonds mafia.
On June 15 2010, Sydney Chisi made an astounding revelation which ZVT did not follow up.
He said CCZ was set up to oppose two momentous decisions: Zimbabwe’s decision to lead SADC coalition forces in rescuing the people of a sister SADC country, the DRC, from military aggression and genocide sponsored by the same Anglo-Saxon forces seeking to prevent the sale of Zimbabwe’s diamonds today; and the decision of Zimbabwe’s war veterans and peasants to occupy their land which was stolen from Zimbabweans in the last 100 years and which had become white settler-property through theft by conquest and conversion.
Those were the two key reasons which Chisi gave as having caused the foreign funding and formation of CCZ (CCZ is an NGO allied to MDC-T).
So, in that June 15 2010 ‘Melting Pot’ programme, CCZ was adding opposition to the sale of Zimbabwe’s diamonds as a third good reason for the existence of this foreign funded organisation.
These are some of the truths which must be told honestly as MaDzimbahwe seek consensus with the help of SADC again in 2019. SADC does remember that the MDC formations in 2008 had agreed to join ZANU-PF in fighting sanctions.

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