BY DR MASIMBA MAVAZA
Zimbabwe has suffered from unrelenting onslaught from Europe and America. The onslaught is done in the form of sanctions which has brought zimbabwe to its knees.
Zimbabwe has struggled for seventeen years under the sanctions. It has been difficult to import or export any products. Throughout the years Zimbabwe had slowly been reduced to a jungle. It is the Zimbabwean citizens who suffered more from these sanctions. The sting of the sanctions was so poisonous that Zimbabweans left their country enmas in search of the greener pastures. Countries who were beneath us economically overtook us. Or dollar slowly was devalued until it was nowhere to be seen. It changed its name from dollar to paper to bond.
We had to swallow our national pride and abandon our currency. Ironically we adopted a United States dollar which seemed to stabilise things yet in actual fact it plunged the country in deeper mud.
How did we get these sanctions
In 2002 the European Union imposed restrictive measures, including among other matters, a freeze on the assets of selective members of the Government of Zimbabwe and individuals associated with them.
The EU cut off 128m euros in development aid for the 2002-2007 period.
Foreign ministers of the 15 European countries made their decision after hearing a report on the situation in Zimbabwe from Pierre Schori, the head of the EU’s monitoring team.
Schori was in Zimbabwe where he went in bed with the MDC. The MDC was led by Tsvangirai with Welsman Ncube as the General Secretary. The MDC agreed to exaggerate the situation in Zimbabwe making Zimbabwe look like a war Zone. They literally begged for the sanctions to be applied. The MDC policy was always that if they can not lead Zimbabwe nobody should.
Unfortunately Zimbabweans were subjected to poverty which was never imagined.
In a way to blind most Zimbabweans the world press entered into another high gear in demonising Zimbabwe. To this end the mass was to suffer and Zimbabweans had yo settle for menial jobs abroad just to feed their families.
Many Zimbabweans died trying to escape from the horrors of the sanctions. Zimbabweans were humiliated in South Africa were they worked as maids or garden boys. The name Zimbabwean became a shame in the neighbouring countries those who once walked with their heads up were reduced to nothing walking with their tails between their legs in the land of the minors. Zimbabwe was sold out by the MDC and Schori. Schori was expelled from Zimbabwe in 2002 after showing serious political arrogance and bed hoping with the opposition to destabilise Zimbabwe.
The EU foreign ministers issued a statement saying that Cde Mugabe’s government had “prevented the deployment of an EU election observation mission”.
The statement added: “The EU remains seriously concerned at political violence, serious violations of human rights and restrictions on the media … which call into question the prospects for a free and fair election.” But it forgot to mention that this information was the report from MDC having been coined by Chamisa Biti Ncube and the whole MDC lot.
Zimbabwe has refused to accept observers from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Britain or the Netherlands, which Harare accuses of opposing Mugabe and fronting a regime change.
In their statement, the foreign ministers made clear the EU sanctions were “designed not to harm ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe or her neighbours”. But on the contrary it was the mass which bore the piercing edge of the sanctions.
An EU spokeswoman, Emma Udwin, said that “all 15 EU governments agreed it was preferable to withdraw all the observers” and impose economic sanctions. This was the request presented by MDC and gladly taken by the EU.
The decision followed weeks of threats by EU officials that Europe would impose sanctions against CDE Mugabe and 19 other senior officials, including a visa ban and a freeze on their overseas assets, if Zimbabwe hampered the work of its election observer team.Was this the EU’s love for Zimbabwe or a payment to MDC for their political prostitution.
EU ministers had also threatened to take action if Zimbabwe denied the international media free access to cover the forthcoming presidential elections which was due on March 9-10. 2002. President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party was being accused of orchestrating several years of political intimidation and violence aimed at stamping out opposition to his rule. But there was no proof to this outrageous accusations.
The country’s economy was to be crippled under food and fuel shortages with very little foreign currency to finance imports. This was the products of sanctions.
Portugal and Greece were reported to have opposed the imposition of sanctions and to have favoured the continued pressure of EU monitors inside Zimbabwe.
Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted self-governing state, group, or individual.Economic sanctions are not necessarily imposed because of economic circumstances—they may also be imposed for a variety of political, military, and social issues. Economic sanctions can be used for achieving domestic and international purposes.
Economic sanctions generally aim to change the behavior of elites in the target country. However, the efficacy of sanctions is debatable and sanctions can have unintended consequences.
Economic sanctions may include various forms of trade barriers, tariffs, and restrictions on financial transactions.An embargo is similar, but usually implies a more severe sanction often with a direct air and/or naval blockade.
So the sanctions were then embraced by the US who then endorsed their own sanctions on Zimbabwe. The US sanctions are killing ordinary Zimbabweans by the thousands. Through its control over the world banking system, America’s sanctioning power flouts international human rights law and poses a threat to the world. But the world turned a blind eye for they wanted Zimbabwe to suffer.
Zimbabwe tried to negotiate over sanctions that have plagued the economy. Back in 2004 after months of increasingly hostile rhetoric, the US government changed the name of sanctions and called them targeted sanctions and imposed a “maximum pressure” campaign that included unilateral, economy-wide sanctions.
These sanctions hampered trade between the European Union, whose leaders have sought to effect a regime change in Zimbabwe.
When President Trump reimposed sanctions in November 2018, it cut off Zimbabwe’s diamond exports and access to the international financial system. At the time, he announced that Zimbabwe could either comply with new US demands or face “economic isolation.More recently, Trump said that although Zimbabwe’s economy is crashing . . . it’s very easy to straighten [it] out, or it’s very easy for us to make it a lot worse.
And so, according to Trump himself, the United States has the power to solve — or exacerbate — Zimbabwe’s current economic problems. What is left unsaid, including by much of the media, is that sanctions that “crash” the economy are an attack on the country’s civilian population and create widespread human misery. Indeed, they appear to be contributing to widespread shortages of medicine and medical equipment, particularly affecting cancer patients.
The US administration officials often contend that sanctions have negligible economic or social effects on the general population of Zimbabwe. US recently denied that US sanctions on Zimbabwe affect the availability of medicine and agricultural products. In this argument, US divorces the connection between the economic damage caused by sanctions in and the lack of basic necessities like medicine and food, preferring to instead lay blame on the Zimbabwean government, not on what the Trump administration calls “targeted” sanctions.
Are the sanctions causing economic problems, or simply a way to punish individual actors? Answering this question requires an examination of the impact sanctions have on economy and the mechanisms by which sanctions work now every Zimbabwean understands what is called suffering.
Looking at Zimbabwe’s economy which has been directly targeted by the sanctions regime, is a good way to get a sense of how the sanctions have affected the country’s economy,
Sanctions Are Exacerbating Social Problems
The main mechanism by which oil production has fallen is the same mechanism that prevents Zimbabwe from importing food and medicine: It cannot find buyers for its diamonds on the open market, just like it cannot buy food or medicine on the open market. In effect, it is cut off from the US-dominated international financial system.
Uniquely, the United States exerts broad control over international banking transactions. One way is via the SWIFT and CHIPS systems, which handle the vast majority of those transactions. The SWIFT system, which provides a common communication system for banks, is controlled by US banks, which own the majority of the system and have officials on its board. On top of that, despite not being located in the United States, SWIFT makes all of the system’s data available to the US government, even if those transactions do not involve the United States. The CHIPS system, which provides communication as well as settlement functions, is governed by US law, has many US banks as owners, and is directly overseen by US authorities. These systems rely on a network of correspondent banks — which link banks that might not have direct relationships with one another — to complete transactions. The apex of the correspondent system is the New York Federal Reserve Bank, under the control of US banking authorities, which also serves as a lender of last resort to other central banks
A system designed in this way ensures that banks with no relationship with each other still can transact in a common currency (dollars) via a common bank (the New York Fed) in an agreed-upon framework (SWIFT and CHIPS).
However, it also means that the United States has disproportionate power over transactions. Formally, the United States government, via the Office of Foreign Assets Control, can prohibit transactions involving Zimbabwe to pass through systems and banks in which it has jurisdiction. More informally, the US government can pressure SWIFT, other central banks, correspondent banks, and even specific firms to adopt policies of refusing to do business with Zimbabwe. Since these players fear retribution from US authorities (e.g., being sanctioned themselves), they are usually unwilling to take the risk of doing business with Zimbabwe unless they have no other business that might involve the United States or financial entities that can be pressured by the United States.
Because the international banking system is designed in this way, US sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy effectively mean that not only can Zimbabwe not easily sell diamonds or any products on the open market, it cannot easily buy food or medicine either, even if the latter are nominally exempt. This is because sanctioned Zimbabwean banks and officials are ultimately involved in these transactions in the same way that they are with economy often by virtue of the position they hold in the Zimbabwean government or banking system.
But on top of these issues, even if food and medicine were, in reality, exempt from the sanctions regime, the “crippling effect” on Zimbabwe’s economy would impact Zimbabwe’s financial ability to acquire food and medicine anyway.
The total number of Zimbabweans who have been killed by the sanctions imposed because MDC begged for them may never be known. The blood of the citizens screams under the cruel jaws of the sanctions. Shame on those who beg for sanctions so that they can be involved in a political dialogue.
Sanctions are evil they must be removed.