Mzembi’s Key Points from House of Lords’ Sanctions Debate on Zimbabwe
12 March 2024
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Former Foreign Minister Walter Mzembi Highlights Key Points from House of Lords’ Sanctions Debate on Zimbabwe

In an insightful reflection, Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s former Foreign Affairs Minister, delved into the nuanced discussions of the recent sanctions debate held in the British House of Lords. His commentary, shared on Monday, provides a thorough analysis of the dialogue, revealing the complexities surrounding the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and their broader implications.

1. **Trade Resilience Amid Sanctions**: Mzembi begins by highlighting the resilience of trade relations between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom, which remarkably stood at £539 million in the 2022/2023 period despite the sanctions. This demonstrates the enduring economic ties between the two nations, suggesting that sanctions have not wholly severed commercial interactions.

2. **The Vacuum Filled by Global Powers**: The debate acknowledged a significant consequence of the sanctions – the emergence of China and Russia as key players in Zimbabwe. Mzembi notes that sanctions have inadvertently provided Harare with an excuse for maintaining opaque governance and a lack of accountability, as the country leans more on these global powers.

3. **The Ineffectiveness of Broad Spectrum Sanctions**: A critical takeaway from the discussion was the consensus on the ineffectiveness of broad spectrum sanctions. According to Mzembi, these sanctions are perceived as harming the Zimbabwean people more than achieving their intended goals of promoting democracy and human rights.

4. **Advocacy for Targeted Sanctions**: The Lords debated reinforcing the 2019 Global Human Rights Sanctions listing, aiming for an alignment with the Global Magnitsky Sanctions Program. This approach targets individuals responsible for corruption and human rights violations in Zimbabwe, seeking a more focused and effective means of accountability.

5. **Strategic Mineral Endowments**: Mzembi points out the debate’s focus on Africa’s, particularly Zimbabwe’s and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s, rich mineral resources like lithium. The discussion underscored the potential of these resources if governed by inclusive, accountable, and transparent leadership.

6. **The Need for Good Governance**: Exploiting Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth responsibly requires governance reforms. Mzembi emphasizes the Lords’ call for inclusive, accountable, and transparent governance as a precondition for sustainable development and exploitation of mineral resources.

7. **Proposed Parliamentary Visit and Conference**: Lastly, Mzembi mentions the suggestion of an All Party Parliamentary visit and conference in Harare. This initiative aims to push for governance reforms in Zimbabwe, addressing the root causes of poverty and suffering among its population.

Mzembi’s analysis concludes with a call to Zimbabweans to reflect on their views regarding the sanctions debate. By unpacking the House of Lords’ discussions, he invites a broader conversation about Zimbabwe’s future, governance standards, and the international community’s role in fostering positive change. This detailed breakdown sheds light on the multifaceted nature of sanctions, their impacts, and the paths forward for Zimbabwe, underlining the importance of dialogue, diplomacy, and direct action in navigating these complex issues.