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Zimbabwe Sanctions: EU complicating matters

25 July 2012, 12:12

Zimbabwe Sanctions: EU complicating matters

Mbango Sithole

 The thorny issue of sanctions was back in the headlines of major newspapers in Zimbabwe and around the world. This started following a story published by British press of an imminent lifting of the EU’s 2002 sanctions on Zimbabwe. The EU subsequently met and decided that the sanctions would only be lifted if the Constitution referendum is held peacefully.

The EU is not helping matters at all. In fact they are complicating matters.

Obviously, because the EU was Zimbabwe’s major trading partner, the issue drew a lot of interest. Diverse views were proffered by analysts who clearly had a field day trying to unravel the implications of the suspension of these restrictive measures.  Many were happy that the EU is moving in this direction.   We might remember that recently the UN Human Right Commissioner, Pillay had recommended the lifting of the measures as well.  SADC and the AU and both Zanu PF and the MDCs have already clearly spoken against these sanctions. The reasons they want them ended are varied depending on their particular interests.

The fact that they are contemplating lifting of the sanctions should be applauded. But linking their lifting with the referendum, or the elections as Michael Mann, the EU spokesperson, had earlier said earlier, is curious if not telling.  These conditions are in my own opinion, and obviously in the opinion of Zanu PF and maybe SADC or AU, are an unnecessary complication. The EU is pretty aware that the sanctions have failed to achieve their intended mission. The reforms that Zimbabwe seems to have witnessed are largely attributed to the efforts of SADC and the AU which have real clout as far as arm-twisting Zanu PF’s hand.

How can the EU expect Zimbabweans, especially Zanu PF, to accept that the lifting of sanctions should be linked to the outcome of the next elections? We know the EU may have good intentions, as far as democracy and good governance are concerned but I think they should apply their minds carefully before issuing out statements.

By laying out conditional lifting of sanctions, the EU is displaying a gross ignorance of African politics. They are complicating matters. It only serves to undermine those who are fighting for democratic reforms which should bring an end to the monstrous GNU. The west has been so disingenuous again. Their failure to understand how to deal with the African problem has perpetuated the sorry state of many of our countries. The African issues can only be effectively dealt with in the light of the history we had.  Our democracies have clearly not yet matured. The clouding of historical perspectives can only be ignored if one decides to be a novice in African politics.

 The EU should just lift the sanctions without conditions as he conditions will only serve to strengthen the regime change agenda theories that Zanu PF has peddled for over a decade since the advent of the MDC. We all know that the sanctions have been branded “illegal” and only serving to effect regime change. Attaching conditions which have to do with elections was not a wise move on the part of the EU. The sanctions have clearly failed to achieve their intended mission apart from making life difficult for the poor and vulnerable. SADC and the AU have complained that the sanctions are impeding their efforts in resolving issues in Zimbabwe and have called for their unconditional lifting on numerous instances.

 The Zanu PF thinking machinery can only be underestimated by weak minds. The party is undeniably endowed with a lot of astute politicians. While the MDC is caught up in self admiration, that they had finally managed to wrestle Zanu PF’s hand and dragged it to the compromise table, Zanu Pf is, in my view, busy plotting ways of wriggling out of their commitments to SADC and the AU through the GPA that gave rise to the GNU. The sanctions argument became their panacea. They did this and managed to remain accepted by their neighbours.  

We also saw the naivety of the West in the alleged utterances of Tony Blair and David Miliband and others when they are said to have publicly confessed that they were working with MDC to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. That being said by a former colonial master just served to complicate the political discourse.  I am not in any way arguing that they are not trying to effect regime change. All I am disputing is their wisdom in shouting that on rooftops. They obviously underestimate our intellectual capabilities because in doing so they undermined the same MDC they purported to be working with. I have argued elsewhere that some of the political violence we have experienced was a direct result of such reckless utterances by Britain and her allies which have been misconstrued in some quarters to mean that they want to reverse the gains of Zimbabwe’s Independence.

Can the EU and the US truly and frankly claim that they have helped the situation in Zimbabwe? The answer is an obvious NO. Their measures have not helped the ordinary man in the street or countryside. They only served to harden hearts of some of our leaders by giving credence to the notion that there was an onslaught on the independence and sovereignty of Zimbabwe. The anger in the hearts of our leaders is what has resulted in many of the things we have seen manifesting as “indigenisation drive” and other names. Good as they maybe, they were supposed to be done in a way that does not result in worsening the condition of the economy.

 Common wisdom demands that one cannot expect a different result if they continue doing the same things over and over again. If the sanctions have failed to achieve their intended job they should be lifted. There should never be any conditions attached. Let alone conditions that have to do with the outcome of elections.

Although the sanctions were meant to be targeted their effects resonated to the whole economy. Many, especially knowledgeable business people, will agree that whenever sanctions are imposed on any country it ceases to be business as usual. Much of what has bedeviled our country has to do with the sanctions which were inflicted upon us because of the politics which went wrong sometime at the beginning of the last decade. From that time we saw the dark cloud shift from other hotspots of poverty and despair in Africa to settle right above our heads. Zimbabwe had experienced a much sustained period of peace and economic prosperity. It had boasted of the enviable bread basket of Africa status. It had been a great joy living and doing business in Zimbabwe. The people were friendly, educated and very sociable. The business environment was full of promise before things fell apart. It is amazing to see some Zimbabweans demonstrating and demanding that the sanctions should not be lifted. What they fail to demonstrate to us and to the world are their effects on the intended target.   Both EU sanctions and ZIDERA must be unconditionally removed for the good of democracy and for the good of the people of Zimbabwe. There is nothing being achieved by these sanctions and we should all, as Zimbabweans speak with one voice in calling for their unconditional lifting.

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