Dialogue hypocritical without making sanctions a central issue


By Dr Tafataona Mahoso

A FEW weeks ago, Zimbabweans were shocked to hear the MDC Alliance attacking Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa for identifying Western sanctions on Zimbabwe as a key factor hindering both economic reform and economic reconstruction for national prosperity.

Since the MDC formations requested, and got, the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe starting in 2000, they had been used to ignoring or dismissing the evil of sanctions as a ZANU PF gimmick and excuse.  

Now, someone who has been in business all his adult life was confronting the same sanctions for what they have always been: The key hindrance to national economic reconstruction, reconciliation and progress.

According to most media sources, this is what the businessman told CNBC Africa on January 26 2019.

“I think for instance that the sanctions should be removed; there is no justification for them anymore. They should be removed. I’ve always been on record to say the sanctions are not justified and now we’re almost 20 years into the sanctions. You can’t have one country operate with its hands tied behind its back for that long.”

The question of sanctions is fundamental not only because the MDC Alliance wants talks with ZANU PF without first apologising for asking for the same sanctions but also because ZANU PF itself does not seem to have confronted the question: How and why would you liberalise an economy which has been under sanctions for 20 years and continues to grind on under the same sanctions regime?

The reference to 20 years means that Masiyiwa has a sense of history which the MDC Alliance lacks.

When former President Robert Mugabe launched the anti-sanctions campaign in 2010, even some ZANU PF leaders were sceptical about its possible effectiveness as an issue around which to mobilise the people.

I predicted in my Sunday Mail African Focus column that the sanctions story was going to be one of the most enduring stories in the history of Zimbabwe.  

I said even after the defeat of those sanctions, the story would grow in importance.  

I said future generations of MaDzimbahwe would see the illegal sanctions as having defined their relations with Europe, the UK and the US for decades, if not centuries, to come because of the following reasons:

λ The historical effect of the sanctions would be to punish future, and not current, generations of Zimbabweans as if the Anglo-Saxons imposing them saw themselves as gods.

λ The sanctions were imposed and maintained only by white Anglo-Saxon countries, thereby exposing the lie that Western countries were no longer driven by racism, exposing the hollowness of Barack Obama’s claim that the Western world was now a post-racial society just because he became US President at one time.

λ The reason for imposing those sanctions was to stop Zimbabwe’s African land reclamation movement and its redistribution of white-stolen land to 300 000 African households. Now, this land revolution would succeed and would come to be seen, even in the West, as the wisest and fairest action which an African liberation movement ever took. So, the whole world at some stage was going to ask the UK, US and Europe why they fought so diabolically to prevent poor and dispossessed Africans from reclaiming their stolen land? 

λ The lies which both the Anglo-Saxon powers and the MDC formations needed to tell in order to hide, deny or justify the sanctions would become so many and so contradictory that they could not be sustained. The lies would be so ridiculous and insulting that future generations of Zimbabweans would be astounded and would not forget the history of Zimbabwe’s relations with the West from 1997 to 2019.

Looking back to the launch of the anti-sanctions mobilisation in 2010 and looking at efforts by the MDCs to deny the reality of the sanctions, I can confirm that sanctions have become a long, ugly and growing tail which white people attached on Morgan Tsvangirai and his followers in 2000; and that ever since then, the MDC Alliance has been running away from that donated tail without success.  

Now, the MDC Alliance is having to attack many people beyond ZANU PF to try to silence them on the issue of sanctions.

Let me bring the seriousness of the illegal sanctions into context by citing one of the most enthusiastic participants in their enforcement, former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell.

Without going all the way to admit that the mass shock experienced by Zimbabweans from 2000 to 2005 was a result of illegal sanctions, Dell had this to say to Africa University students and faculty on  November 2 2005:

“The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) of 2001 is the cornerstone of US policy toward Zimbabwe. Under the Act, the United States conditions aid and financing for Zimbabwe … Ladies and gentlemen, no issue today is more important to the future of Zimbabwe nor has the potential to harm the (SADC) region than the growing collapse of the Zimbabwe economy… It was more than dismaying to read a paper published in July by the Centre for Global Development in Washington on the Costs and Causes of Zimbabwe’s Crisis. It is estimated that Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has set the country back more than half a century. The paper calculated that the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean in 2005 had fallen back to the same level as in 1953… That’s an astonishing reversal of 52 years (at 2005) of progress in only half a dozen years.”

The theory behind the diabolic use of economic terrorism as sanctions is well established in the neoliberal capitalist doctrine which Naomi Klein called ‘the shock doctrine’.  

The sanctions-induced economic and social crisis in Zimbabwe had the effect of taking the country and the people back to 1953 in a short period of six years, according to Dell’s speech on November 2 2005.  

Such a disastrous situation has the effect of recycling the country back to a ‘frontier’ state, a colonial state.  

It is unfortunate that journalists did not ask Dell what the significance of 1953 was for the forces of illegal regime change.   

In 1953, colonial Rhodesia was an open frontier of fresh opportunities for white racists from all over Europe and North America; it was an open ‘frontier’ economically speaking, territorially speaking, ideologically speaking, culturally and morally speaking.  

In 1953, colonial Rhodesia was an open frontier society where Britain resettled its white veterans of the Hitler wars with the assistance of the US Marshall Plan, the World Bank and the Rhodesian piece of racist legislation called the Native Land Husbandry Act which helped to clear African prime farm land of natives.  

Indeed a new ‘frontier’ colony is always characterised by a creeping, universalised corruption, whatever name the coloniser may give it. Sanctions brought back mass corruption and the school system was not spared. We heard of teachers who needed to be ‘juiced’ in order to teach! 

The year 1953 was the frontier year of the start of the white Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In the words of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein:

“Corruption has been as much a fixture on these contemporary (neo-liberal) frontiers as it was during the colonial gold rushes. Since the most significant privatisation deals are always signed amid the crisis, clear laws and effective regulators are never in place (and if they are, they must be removed) the atmosphere is chaotic, the prices are flexible and so are the (compromising and compromised) politicians. What we have been living … is a frontier capitalism with the frontier constantly shifting location from crisis to crisis, moving on as soon as the law catches up.”

For generations to come, Western

interests in Zimbabwe will be stalked by the long shadow of the illegal Anglo-Saxon sanctions imposed on the people of this country during the era of former US President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The haunted Western interests include the political creatures among us which were set up with aid from the Westminster Foundation, the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, the US National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.  

The internal political creatures are the MDC formations, which is why the MDC Alliance’s media allies felt compelled to extend their attacks on Zimbabweans to Masiyiwa.

After former President Robert Mugabe mobilised the people of this country to demonstrate against sanctions that are hurting the povo in 2010, NewsDay, for instance on April 16 2011, published a leader page feature by one Lloyd Mbiba entitled ‘What can two million signatures achieve?’  

For a question being asked on behalf of parties claiming to represent ‘democratic change’, this was a foolish question.  

Real democracy and democratic politics is about numbers.  

Less than one month before Zimbabweans launched the national anti-sanctions campaign, one Dewa Mavhinga also published a leader page opinion in The Standard (February 6 2011) which was called ‘Sanctions mantra increasingly threadbare’ and in which he claimed the following:

“I do not see how targeted shopping restrictions on President Mugabe and members of his inner circle can hurt the country. Despite the sanctions rhetoric, the people of Zimbabwe are receiving massive aid every year from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States in the areas of health, sanitation, education and agriculture inputs.” 

For the last 20 years, the UK, the US and the EU have sponsored some journalists and media houses in Zimbabwe for the purpose of fabricating the very same lies which these countries then deploy against Zimbabwe at international forums.   

This strategy has failed to win the majority to the side of the Western powers and their sponsored media and journalists here.  

The situation became so desperate that at one time, the sponsored papers resorted to using, as columnists, some of the representatives of the Western governments in Zimbabwe.  

This strategy backfired because it exposed the editorial policies of the foreign sponsored papers in a very crude manner, making people suspect that the paper or papers exist to lie to Zimbabweans on behalf of their foreign sponsors. So the practice was stopped.

The irony of this abuse of Zimbabwe’s media freedom by the foreign sponsors is that patriotic Zimbabweans can turn the tables on the sponsors by using the sponsored media outlets and products to monitor, on a daily basis, the footprints and brainwaves of imperialism itself.  

Because these sponsored outlets often have to lie for their supper, they are not useful as sources of scientific data or truth about the real situation for imperialism to plan ahead.  

That is why, in 2013, US Ambassador David Bruce Wharton was surprised to face anti-sanctions demonstrations in Mutare and Makoni.  

If we take Mavhinga’s piece, we notice two things: A sense of real desperation among the sanctions mongers, both those who invited the sanctions and those who imposed them; and a stunning revelation of the purpose of and the motive behind Anglo-Saxon aid. 

The sense of desperation arose from the fact that Mavhinga was, in 2010, already known as the spokesperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) which was represented on ZTV’s Melting Pot programme on June 15 and 29 2010 campaigning on behalf of the Anglo-Saxon powers to have Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamonds black-listed and banned as ‘blood diamonds.’  

Sidney Chisi appeared for the organisation on June 15 while Mavhinga appeared on June 29 2010. 

That is the worst form of illegal sanctions that could ever be imposed on Zimbabwe.  

And, indeed, for quite a long time Zimbabwe did fail to sell its diamonds as it wished.

Now, given these facts, Mavhinga could not be taken seriously when he claimed later on, on February 6 2011, that sanctions against Zimbabwe amounted to nothing more than “…shopping restrictions on President Mugabe and members of his inner circle.”  

The same Mavhinga appeared on TV here and in South Africa lying about Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamonds. 

The effect was unwarranted delays in the licensing of those diamonds, so much so that the entire African Diamonds Producers Association, in April 2011, was threatening to leave the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to the white countries (who have no diamonds) and to set up a new scheme based on producers and markets in the South and the East.

Because he wrote on behalf of the sponsors of Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, Mavhinga also exposed the aid racket in Zimbabwe as a ‘chema economy’, a misery and relief economy whose main purpose was to hide the true meaning of illegal sanctions from the very same victims of those sanctions.  

The idea that there are no sanctions because there is charity is ridiculous. In fact, the more diabolic and devastating the illegal sanctions are, the more charitable activities and gestures the sanctions mongers feel obliged to engage in in order to disguise their evil and racist intentions.  

In fact, the failure of the artificial lights focusing on the chema economy to wipe out the long shadow of illegal sanctions was demonstrated by former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray in his letter to The Financial Gazette on June 3 2010, where he wrote to say:

“One can hardly go a day in Zimbabwe without the topic of sanctions creeping — no, barging — into the conversation. I have often remarked that this is a topic that I find little reason to dwell on, and usually avoid doing so. It is a non-issue that has lots of billowing smoke, but little flame. It is, however, such a pervasive topic, I feel I must attempt to offer some input…”

So, when the next US Ambassador David Bruce Wharton arrived in Zimbabwe to replace Ray, he really thought the chema economy, headed by USAID in this country, would have succeeded in wiping clean the illegal sanctions slate, so that Wharton could reset the clock and pretend that no harm has been done or is being done. 

He thought that the bright lights of Western criminal humanitarianism would have made Zimbabweans succumb to terror by forgetting.

His arrival was preceded by a vigorous advertising campaign on Star FM Radio where the Ambassador sought to portray himself and his wife as ordinary folk who identified with the povo of Zimbabwe, especially since Wharton and his wife were also small land-holders in the State of Virginia.  

He wanted the people of Zimbabwe to know that he too valued land possession as much as vana vevhu also valued the possession of their land in Zimbabwe. But the land in the US was obtained through genocide against the natives there.

The underlying message was that the US Ambassador did not approve of the way in which the Government of Zimbabwe had enabled the same vana vevhu to repossess that land, therefore the illegal Anglo-Saxon sanctions, including the ZDERA of the US would not be lifted.

Wharton, despite his having spent years here as an information officer, underestimated the intelligence of vana vevhu.

So, on January 17 2013, The Herald told its readers that:

“The US Ambassador’s nightmarish tour of Manicaland continued yesterday when he came face-to-face with more demonstrations from residents demanding the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by his country and its Western allies.”

One of the female demonstrators confronted the Ambassador in her underwear, forcing him to retreat.  

The placards which the demonstrators waved focused on the local economic impact of the illegal sanctions, listing local companies which had shut down in Mutare as a result of illegal sanctions.

The demonstrators denounced the criminal humanitarianism of the West saying: “We are not a nation of beggars, we want to be productive, but the sanctions are making everything impossible.”

On January 19 2013, The Daily News interviewed the US Ambassador about his two encounters with demonstrators in Makoni, near Rusape, on January 15 and in Mutare on January 16 2013. The Daily News did not bother to interview the protesters or other patriots. Such interviews might have shown that the protesters’ views are widely shared.

What makes the people of Zimbabwe angry is the racist idea that they should accept US charity made necessary because of hardships created through illegal US sanctions; and that by accepting this charity, Zimbabweans must either deny that the sanctions are real or accept the racist view that the sanctions are real and justified.

So, as MaDzimbahwe make calls for dialogue, Nelson Chamisa and his white sponsors face a dilemma.  

If they cut off the donated sanctions tail, everyone would notice because Chamisa and MDC Alliance are within the glare of cameras. If they leave the tail to grow, its drag may overwhelm them.

The significance of Masiyiwa’s comment on CNBC Africa on January 26 2019 is that history will catch up with the MDC formations and their sponsors concerning their lies on the sanctions matter.  

The world today knows that sanctions against Iraq killed more than 600 000 children in that country from 1991 to 2000 before the US-UK war which started in March 2003.  

The world can also see that Iraq today is far worse off than it was before the sanctions and the invasion.


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