What Exactly Are Sanctions?
23 October 2019
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Zimbabwe as a sovereign nation has been reeling under economic targeted sanctions since 2002 when ZIDERA was enacted.


But what exactly are sanctions? Sanctions are punitive measures imposed on an individual, organization or country by another as a result of breaching of certain agreements be it economic, human rights or arms deals. Sanctions are meant to be deterrent or inhibiting measures which keep individual or organizational activities under check. Their effects could be as minor as personal travel ban to adverse effects like crippling development or stunting economic growth of a country. This essay will discuss the effects of sanctions in the Zimbabwean context.

From 1980 to 1987 the government of Zimbabwe led by the former president Cde R G Mugabe imposed sanctions to its citizens in a genocidal move characterized by food embargos and mass murder of unarmed citizens. These sanctions had the same ripple effects as the Hiroshima bomb in japan. The effects of the sanctions are still being felt today in the lives of thousands of fatherless children as the exercise was punctuated by rape escapades. Up to date no one has been arrested for the Gukurahundi crime despite the Roman Catholic commission showing that over 20 000 people were killed in that dark period.

The other sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean population were the “PROTECT THE CORRUPT” targeted sanctions which mainly makes sure that those identified engaging in economic crimes are just transferred from one department to another or promoted from one ministry to the next. The early fruits of these sanctions were seen in the willow-vale scandal of 1988 , 1986 NRZ housing scandal which up to date no one has been arraigned before the courts to answer for their crimes, 1999 Noczim Scandal, 2016 $16 Billion diamond revenue scandal, 2019 $400 million NSSA scandal etc.

In 1997 the so called war vets decided to demand $50000 pay outs each of unbudgeted money. That black November Friday the economy took a nose dive. Food riots and student activism sky rocketed. To divert attention from the deteriorating economic crises, government of Zimbabwe decided to engage in an unnecessary DRC war which cost over 1million unbudgeted dollars a day in 1998. That exercise put a serious dent on the financial coffers. DRC war was both a diversion strategy from home problems as well as well of enriching the top officials from DRC diamond and mineral concessions at the expense of the Zimbabwean soldiers’ lives. That was one of the many human rights abuse sanctions imposed on Zimbabweans by its government.

From 1980, land redistribution was done through a willing buyer willing seller arrangement where the UK government funded the land reform program through compensating the identified willing land sellers. In 1994 the British government started to seriously demand audit papers for the willing buyer willing seller funds. To this, the government reacted by putting a blanket cover on any transparency demanded by refusing with audit papers. This cascaded to the 1997 donor conference where UK stopped any land funding until audit papers for its donated monies are made public. Those were the first unofficial sanctions from Britain and its allies.

In response to the British refusal with the monies, the government of Zimbabwe went on the year 2000 HONDO YEMINDA overdrive to divert people’s attention from the real corruption problems bedeviling the country. While ordinary citizens got small plots of land, big fish government officials got multiple farms which they ran down in no time at all. Farm workers suffered, we started importing grain year after year. We were promoted from being bread basket to begging basket of Africa quickly. Why would one blame sanctions if a multiple farm owner has thousands of hectares of productive land lying idle?

In early 2000 there was enactment of the AIPA and POSA draconian laws which saw Zimbabweans suffer under serious sanctions against their freedom of expression and assembly. Political opponents were arrested willy-nilly. Police brutality was used to subjugate any dissenting voice. Most Zimbabweans died, some fled the country, and some were permanently injured. In the subsequent elections the government of Zimbabwe decided to put sanction on the real election results and instead churn out its midnight doctored results against the will of the voters. It is such human abuses which lead to America imposing official ZIDERA sanction on the government of Zimbabwe.

It is this ZIDERA sanctions that the government of Zimbabwe has been holding on to as a cause for its failure to plan. Meanwhile despite the ZIDERA sanctions, our government of Zimbabwe under current presidency has not stopped importing SUVs worth millions of US dollars but refuses to provide proper education and medical care for its citizens citing sanction constrains.

Emmerson Mnangagwa is famed for chartering a plane from the Caribbean to fly him from Harare to Bulawayo because “Air Zimbabwe planes are not safe for a president”. These are the effects of ZIDERA. The amount of looting in the government is rife as most government officials get 10million US kickbacks from business people who want to come in with investment. These officials have imposed sanctions on the development of the country.

Currently we have only Billy Rautenbach has monopoly over petrol-ethanol blending in Zimbabwe, he even has his own act enacted to protect his corruption. Rautenbach has so much monopoly in the industry he charges whatever he wants there by increasing the price of fuel to unprecedented levels. Midyear his litre of ethanol cost $3.97 RTGS there by pushing price of blended petrol to $5.15. Alternative Zimbabwean ethanol suppliers could have supplied it at $1.00, importing it from Brazil could cost us $0.50. Despite such empowerment, the government of Zimbabwe still suffers from sanctions. It is these monopoly sanctions which have made Zimbabwe unable to develop its roads, bridges despite the numerous tollgates taking at least 10RTGS per vehicle.

Zimbabwean government has imposed illegal sanctions on its subjects in form of overtaxing its citizens so that the high level government officials could have their allowances paid on time and in US dollars. It is these sanctions which make officials like Prof Mthuli Ncube stay in 300USD per night five star hotels for over two years because the ministry can’t provide him with a house. As a result he is flown to and from Switzerland every week to be with his family. Sanctions must be removed as they are hurting us.

As we speak, Minister Mupfumira is in and out of prison for corruption. Her case is complex to argue in court because of the big fish involved in her crime. The big fish whose names even the judge is not allowed to whisper. That’s how travesty and devastating sanctions are.

In Zimbabwe ministers are able to import top of range vehicles duty free, get diplomatic passports, travel to the US yet fail to help with education of supply of basic drugs at government pharmacies as a result of these targeted sanctions. To feed its corrupt officials, the Government of Zimbabwe had no choice but to ban its citizens from treading in USD or getting paid in USD yet demand its Vehicle import tax in USD so as to satisfy and fund the ministers top of range vehicle appetite.

One wonders if it’s these ZIDERA sanctions which make civil servants earn valueless bond and RTGS while ministers earn thousands and get allowances in USDs?

Thinking deeply, one is tempted to ask if its ZIDERA effects that ended up shooting unarmed civilians in broad day light for demanding their constitutional rights on the 1st of august 1918 yet up to date no one has been brought to justice yet.

Due to the human rights abuse, failure to abide by electoral, security sector, media, human rights reforms, ZANUPF has invited and continues to sustain the ZIDERA sanctions since early 2000s. To remove sanctions, ZANUPF must simply reform and respect the constitution of Zimbabwe. If ZANUPF cannot reform then ZANUPF must go. That’s the only way to remove the yoke of burden on our shoulders as ordinary Zimbabweans.

Come the 25th of October, let’s all march and remove these ZANUPF imposed sanctions. Our real sanctions are ED and his ZANUPF. We are not going back home until the last of these sanctions are removed. ZANUPF, corruption and its policies are the real sanctions Zimbabweans don’t need at this moment.