ZANU -PF’ s sanctions nightmare

Posted: 05/03/2011 in Demonstration, Economy, EU, GNU, GPA, MDC, Mugabe, Politics, Sanctions, Tsvangirai, U. S, Unemployment, ZANU-PF, ZIDERA, Zimbabwe

If there is something that has been nagging at
Zimbabwe’ s politics for the past decade , it is the
issue of sanctions , and yesterday , ZANU PF
whose business has been declared to be the
protection of the country ’ s sovereignty and
independence , unleashed its campaign
machinery tow -ards mobilising against the
sanctions . It is an issue that has dogged the
inclusive government since its inception in
February 2009 . The MDC party formation led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has insisted
the sanctions are mere “ restrictions ” , but Dep-
uty Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara , the
former leader of another MDC formation, has
loudly condemned the sanctions , which the
West argue are targeted against President
Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle .
“ There is no economic sanctions regime in this
country , there are restrictive measures,” Prime
Minister Tsvangirai told a public accountability
seminar orga – nised by the Media Institute of
Southern Africa ( MISA ) and the Centre for
Public Accountability ( CPA ) last year , adding:
“ We have agreed as principals to tackle the issue
of restrictive measures as this isolation has
affected the lines of credit . ”
But President Mugabe and his ZANU PF party
insist that the sanctions are not targeted but
were rather put in place to accelerate Zimba –
bwe ’ s economic collapse in order to undermine
his government under what ZANU-PF describes
as “ the regime change agenda” .
ZANU-PF began mobilising support for two
million signatures to accompany a petition
against the sanctions by the EU and the US
government yesterday at an event where
President Mugabe was the chief guest. Prime
Minister Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister
Mutambara had been invited to the occasion,
but reports indicate that they snubbed the
event .
In a campaign advertisement, ZANU-PF
highlighted that Article 1 V of the global political
agreement ( GPA ) , the instrument that facilitated
the creation of the inclusive government, had
bound all three political parties in the inclusive
government to fight “ illegal sanctions impo- sed
on the Zimbabwean people by the United
Kingdom , the Europ- ean Union , United States of
Ame- rica and international financial institutions
like the IMF and the World Bank ” .
“ This article of the GPA attests to the direct
connection between these illegal sanctions and
the decline in the Zimbabwean economy; the
non-availability of lines of credit to Zimbabwe;
the negative international perception of
Zimbabwe; and the fall in the standards of living
of the Zimbabwean people, ” read the ZANU-PF
campaign banner .
“ Sanctions do kill! Sign against them , act against
them !” charged ZANU- PF .
Recently , business has come out in support of
measures to withdraw the sanctions , arguing
these had become an unbearable cost to
business and the economy .
It is indeed true that sanctions have been a
factor in Zimbabwe’ s economic de- cline that
ended with formation of the inclusive
government in 2009 , but they were certainly not
the major reason for the sharp decline. With the
economic crisis emerged a sharp decline in
living standards .
For many years , and as most economists and
economic journalists will confirm , the critical
economic story was government’ s budget
deficits which were largely accrued to finance
recurrent expenditure .
There was very little for capital projects , key to
the development of an economy and job
creation .
An economic adjustment programme backed by
the IMF in the early 1990 s had only worsened
the situation . Its intentions had been noble:
There was need for belt tightening as well as
austere measures by government to grow the
economy . But government panicked at the first
signs of upheaval; austere measures meant the
erosion of so -called social safety nets , and free
health care for the poor . As a result, these
reforms were abandoned , and government
argued they had been inappropriate for the
domestic economy.
But the decline in the economy became gradual;
rising commodity prices stoked spontaneous
protects in Harare ’ s urban areas after bread
prices went up in 1998.
Similar protests were to ensue in consequent
years , triggered largely by declining standards of
living and rising unemployment .
These were precisely the issues that triggered
the em -ergence of the opposition in Zimbabwe
in 1999, with the Zimbabwe Congress of Tr -ade
Unions ( ZCTU ) secretary -general , Morgan
Tsvangirai , now Prime Minister of the inclusive
government , emerging the favourite to le- ad
efforts to unseat the inc- umbent government of
Pre -sident Mugabe from power.
But , just th -en, the contentious issue of land
ownership emerged , and ZANU-PF , whose
leadership had always lured voters on the back
of promises to re -distribute land to landless bla –
cks , seized on that issue to win back support
and fend off the threat posed by the opposition .
Unsettled white farmers began bank- rolling the
M-DC formation led by Tsvan -girai , and the
international community — the USA , the EU ,
Australia, New Zealand and a few others outside
the EU block – jumped into the MDC’ s corner.
But that only served to make the MDC’ s struggle
for power a racial affair : President Mugabe
charged that the condemnation of his
government was an issue of “ kith and kin” — the
British , who led the campaign against ZANU-PF
and President Mugabe , were angry with his
government for taking away land from the
whites .
The US first targeted Zimbabwe in 2001 after
the controversial land reform programme that
saw thousands of white -owned farms invaded
and occupied.
The Zimbabwe Dem – ocracy and Economic
Recovery Act ( ZIDERA ) directed that the US
government should oppose the granting of any
loan or financial assistance to Zimbabwe.
President George Bush then expanded the
sanctions by declaring a national emergency to
deal with the Zimbabwean threat in 2003 .
Meanwhile , the opposition ’ s cup ran over, with
massive financial packages from the West –
President Mugabe had to be removed from
power , and the only viable option was the
emergence of Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his
MDC party which they bankrolled with reckless
abandon . Today , senior activists within the MDC
can be counted among US dollar multi –
millionaires through this money , yet village
activists maimed for the struggle against ZANU-
PF have been neglected, in fact shunned by a
party whose struggle has massively enriched a
few.
So , while the economy had already been on a
downward trajectory , and required a miracle to
be salvaged from that course , it was also clearly
the intention of the West to ensure Zimbabwe
was isolated in order to undermine President
Mugabe ’ s government and buttress a surging
opposition through economic sanctions .
Although denying that there were economic
sanctions in place , Prime Minister Tsvangirai,
however , noted that “ the issue of restrictive
measures” was a form of economic “ isolation
( that ) has affected the lines of credit ” into the
country .
Which , put in other words , essentially means
sanctions on President Mugabe and his cabal of
associates were not necessarily smart or
targeted but general economic sanctions which
were meant to have a bearing on the economic
performance .
How does banning individuals of a detested
government from travelling to the EU or the US
achieve democratic reforms unless those
individuals ’ lives depended on visiting those
countries ? The truth is it is Zimbabwe ’ s economy
that depends to a significant extent on financial
interaction with the EU block and the US , rather
than President Mugabe and members of his
government . Besides, the squeeze on
companies targeted under the regime of
sanctions for allegedly propping President
Mugabe ’ s former government have hundreds of
employees dependent on them , and also
interact with many other economic players for
the growth of the Zimbabwean economy . The
management of Zimbabwe’ s economy had
indeed an effect on Zimbabwe ’ s credit
worthiness , but ZIDERA and other sanction
measures gave a cue to financial institutions on
how they had to deal with even private sector
players in the crisis- torn economy.
Yet even without ZIDERA, Zimbabwe had
become unqualified to access balance of
payments support from the IMF because of
protracted arrears.
A US embassy spokesperson in Zimbabwe
indicated in a recent response to an article by
The Financial Gazette that ZIDERA , signed into
law in 2001 , and provisions contained in
subsequent appropriations acts , restricted the
ability of the United States to cast its vote in
support of assistance to Zimbabwe in
international financial institutions ( IFI ’ s) , except
for programmes that meet basic human needs
or promote democracy .
But indeed Zimbabwe was already ineligible for
multilateral loans before ZIDERA due to its
arrears to the IFIs . But ZIDERA made it a law
that the US did not have to support financial
support that could result in a positive turn to
Zimbabwe’ s struggling economy under President
Mugabe ’ s regime .
To many watchers, ZIDERA and indeed other
forms of sanctions against President Mugabe
and his allies are not an obstacle to Zimbabwe’ s
economic recovery , as observed by the recovery
experienced over the past two years . Yet their
removal is indeed an integral part of the GPA,
and indeed full implementation of that political
agreement also includes removal of sanctions .
“ The United States advocates full
implementation of the Global Political
Agreement , an accord brokered by SADC and
signed by each of the three parties represented
in the transitional government , and the holding
of free and fair elections that will reflect the will
of the majority of Zimbabweans ,” the embassy
spokesperson had noted in the statement to this
newspaper .
The spirit of any democratic system is that
political power should be vested in the people,
and if the US , the EU and their allies are sincere
about building a democratic Zimbabwe free of
exogenous influences , they must remove the
sanctions to give the contending political players
equal chances on the ballot .
This is not to say violence , electoral fraud or
human rights abuses from any of the
contending forces should be condoned ; but , it is
certainly not the reason why the US , the EU and
their allies have kept sanctions against President
Mugabe and so-called members of his inner
circle .
The West has stuck to regimes whose leaders
won power through fraudulent elections . Until
the recent protests that triggered the flight of
Hosni Mubarak from power in Egypt , that Arab
country was the single largest recipient of
financial support from the US .
There West has done business with despotic
regimes across the globe , including China ,
whose prominent dissident , Liu Xiaobo, a jailed
Chinese rights activist , won the 2010 Nobel
Peace prize last year , as well as the Equatorial
Guinea or Gabon whose violation of human
rights is equally detestable . Muammar Gaddafi
was until the recent protests viewed as a
“ rehabilitated dictator” after he had agreed
access to Libya ’ s oil resources to the west.
So , even if the sanctions on Zimbabwe might be
a token of apprehension by the West over
Zimbabwe’ s human rights record, they risk being
deduced in racial terms because of the
inconsistent application of that measure by the
West .
This is why regional leaders , including South
Africa’ s President Jacob Zuma , have urged their
withdrawal and patently shown sympathy to
President Mugabe because of the perception
that he is a victim .
To allow for meaningful reforms , these
sanctions have to go and the political gladiators
have to then agree to meaningfully level the
political playing field .

Dumisani Ndlela , Deputy Editor – in- Chief
Friday , 04 March 2011 12 : 56
http://www.financialgazette.co.zw

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