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US sanctions: Why Zim must fight back

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THE largely expected announcement by the US of the extension of its illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe on March 4 was replete with many contradictions and supposed concessions and was meant to further divide the country, SADC, the AU as well as all progressive forces of the world. 

In its malice-ridden sanctions extension statement, Uncle Sam claimed that he had removed numerous Executive Orders that had subdued Harare’s economy over the past 23 years. 

Interestingly, the presser was made on the same day Zimbabwe announced it had discovered oil in Muzarabani, whose samples were ironically tested by a US company. 

Through that seemingly ‘unstinting’ move, Uncle Sam gave impish signals to the effect that his sanctions regime on Harare had come to an end. 

Then there was the inadvertent unravelling of the mischief! 

Uncle Sam finally ‘admitted’ that several key national companies and individuals had been put under sanctions through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which had either seized or froze their assets, and these were now free from the sanctions dragnet. 

US companies, the statement said, were now ‘free’ to do business with Zimbabwe! 

That of, course, is no cause for celebration. 

Zimbabweans have suffered; so too has their economy. 

That means there is need for another comprehensive study on the impact of sanctions and lawsuits which are surely coming Uncle Sam’s way. 

That is not restricted to Government, its sanctioned entities and individuals alike; it is a cause for all progressive Zimbabweans to lay siege on the now clearly beleaguered Uncle Sam. 

There, too, is need to scrutinise why the US made that move. 

The lure of oil and gas in Muzarabani and elsewhere across the country, as new studies are revealing, is too tantalising for Uncle Sam to ignore. 

That means escalation of the illegal regime change putsch. 

But, of course, we cannot ignore a critical aspect of the sanctions renewal move. 

ZDERA, the source of the country’s economic problems, remains in place while President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, other Government entities and officials were also put under sanctions. 

The so-called ZDERA (Section 4C titled ‘Multilateral Financing Restriction’) which was amended in 2018 and is supported by Executive Order 13288 states that: “The Secretary of the US Treasury shall instruct the US Executive Director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit or Guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institutions.” 

While the lie peddled by our so-called experts has been that Zimbabwe was punished by the West for its alleged ‘failure’ to repay its debt in 1997, the reality, which is conveniently ‘ignored’ is that Harare has been saddled by a choking debt since April 18 1980. 

For all his purported economic ‘brilliance’, Ian Douglas Smith accrued a huge debt of US$700 million that was grudgingly inherited by the majority Government at independence. 

That, together with the evil IMF Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) that was designed to halt its rapid economic growth trajectory, meant that by the time Zimbabwe turned its attention to the land issue through the Land Acquisition Act of 1992, and the September 1998 International Donors’ Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement in Harare, among other interventions, was, as was the case during the Lancaster House Conference, negotiating from a disadvantaged position. 

And when Uncle Sam inserted the Multilateral Financing Restriction clause into 

ZDERA, it was aware that it would indeed make Zimbabwe’s economy scream and would, thus, ably support the opposition MDC illegal regime change cause. 

Hence Western countries’ continued, but futile, support for the opposition in its innumerable fragments. 

The idea is to reverse the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme of 2000, as clearly stated in ZDERA, as one of the conditions for the removal of the sanctions. 

The US demands that, “. . . the Zimbabwe Government demonstrates commitment to administering land reform and distribution in a legally sound and equitable manner, in line with the agreements of International Donors’ Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement held in September 1998.” 

This means that Uncle Sam wants Zimbabwe to revert to the skewed pre-1998 land ownership patterns. 

That also dilutes the lie by the opposition that the ZANU PF Government embarked on the land reform to halt the MDC inroads into the ruling Party’s strongholds. 

As was the case in 1980, the masses continue to reject them at the ballot for obvious reasons. 

Section 5 (b) of ZDERA clearly states Uncle Sam’s intentions on Zimbabwe. 

It purports to allocate funds meant ‘to support initiatives and programmes to promote democracy and governance in Zimbabwe’. 

The funds are also meant to ‘support an independent and free press and electronic media’ including funds meant to ‘support equitable legal and transparent land reform in Zimbabwe’. 

While under normal circumstances, the sanctions would have cajoled Zimbabweans to laud Uncle Sam for finally coming to terms with the now unavoidable fact that those sanctions have taken a toll on the lives of ordinary citizens and entities alike, the opposite naturally came to the fore because circumstances can never be normal when an aggressive economic warfare is targeted at the country’s leadership. 

All this is premised on the futile illegal regime change. 

And here is why: 

Regime change agenda and the sanctions factor 

In order to fully grasp the ‘rationale’ behind the continued extension of the sanctions, one must look at the issue of land and resources, with the opposition in mind. 

The regime change push was never about former President Robert Mugabe alone. 

It was, and has always been, about the annihilation of ZANU PF. 

That stance has not changed and is unlikely to change anytime soon. 

In December 1998, the EU was whipped into line by Britain to commission a study on Zimbabwe. 

This was necessitated by Harare’s desire to put finality to the land question thereby addressing one of the major grievances leading to the war of liberation. 

The study was conducted by the Conflict Prevention Network (CPN), a division of the European Union Analysis and Evaluation Centre. 

When the study was concluded, the CPN produced a report with recommendations to the EU Africa Working Group which stated, among other things, that ZANU PF had to go. 

The report, titled ‘Zimbabwe: A Conflict Study of a Country Without Direction’, subsequently led to another report prepared by director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Rudolph Trauber-Merz, again in 1998. 

The then Minister of Foreign Affairs, the late Dr Stan Mudenge, would, in 2004, recall an incident where Clare Short, then UK international development secretary, visited the country in 1998 and refused to meet any Government official. 

The anti-ZANU PF project was already in motion. 

At a function hosted for her during her visit, Jim Drummond, the Resident Head of the Department for International Development, openly said: 

“Mugabe (ZANU PF) should be overthrown.” 

The pressure was not coming from Britain and the EU alone. 

On August 22 2002, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that: 

“The US has admitted that it wants to see ZANU PF removed from power and that it is working with the opposition, trade unions, pro-democracy groups and human rights organisations to bring about change of administration.” 

Opposition guilty as charged 

One unchallenged issue in the sanctions and regime change agenda is the role of the opposition — and therein lies the tragedy. 

On the one hand, the Western countries and their local stooges claim to be champions of democracy and pursuing unity in the country while, on the other, they are doing the exact opposite. 

The time has come for Zimbabweans to be told the role of these dubious characters. 

Within the opposition, it is a public secret that it is on such rare occasions where Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa find each other to supposedly ‘put pressure on ZANU PF’ by compiling lists of those who are supposed to be on the US sanctions list. 

March 4 is a case in point. 

And their aggressive and sometimes provocative language betrays them. 

It is, therefore, not difficult to trace the source of Uncle Sam’s malice. 

What Government needs to do now is to do away with the likes of the IMF, and the US’ continued abrasiveness. 

There is not going to be a shift in position unless, and until, the sanctions are removed in toto. 

That requires the measures that are currently being undertaken by Government to put to an end this madness. 

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