HomeOpinionEric Bloch: Placing Selves Before Nation

Eric Bloch: Placing Selves Before Nation

THOSE in Zimbabwe’s so-called inclusive government, who, before it came into being, governed the country, have been deeply resentful of the allegedly illegal sanctions that were imposed against them by the international community.

That there are no international laws which preclude any countries from determining whom they will, or will not, interact with, whom they will, or will not, allow to visit their countries, and whom they will, or will not, trade with, is conveniently disregarded. Therefore, describing such sanctions as being illegal is specious and spurious, and naught but political deception being perpetrated upon the populace.

Moreover, those of the former government (and now elements of the new government) endlessly seek to justify their demands for the cessation of sanctions by ascribing the disastrous collapse of the Zimbabwean economy, and the consequential immense hardships afflicting most Zimbabweans, to such sanctions. In doing so, they are conveniently and myopically oblivious to numerous realities.

First and foremost, the economic collapse was set in motion in late 1997, almost five years before any sanctions or restrictions were imposed. Only the naïve or deviously duplicitous can convince themselves, and try to convince others, that the horrendous state to which Zimbabwe’s economy was reduced progressively between October, 1997 and 2008, was not due to gross governmental economic mismanagement, but to other causes, including substantially non-existent economic sanctions.

In reality, there are only two substantive sanctions of an economic nature imposed against Zimbabwe by any of the international community (and legally so, albeit probably ill-considered, counterproductive, and against the best interests of the Zimbabweans that the sanctions-imposers seek to assist).

First and foremost is the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zdera), enacted by the US in 2001. Amongst other provisions, that Act precludes the USA representatives to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank from voting in favour of any funding support for Zimbabwe.

However, it in no manner bars the Zimbabwean private sector from trading with USA, be it by exporting Zimbabwean goods to that country, purchase by Zimbabweans of products from USA, or other trade linkages. It also contains no barrier upon USA residents travelling to Zimbabwe, or upon Zimbabweans travelling to USA.

Such travel, be it for business, holiday, educational or other purposes, is in no manner constrained by the legislation, but only by immigration procedures which preclude certain persons from entry into USA, and by a specific ban upon a selected number of the upper echelons of the former ruling party in Zimbabwe, and some senior officials within the Zimbabwean government and associated entities.

In like manner, no other countries have imposed all-embracing economic sanctions upon Zimbabwe.

The European Union (EU), and some British Commonwealth countries, have imposed that which it terms as targeted “restrictions” upon specified Zimbabweans, and upon parastatals and other entities within the Zimbabwean governmental infrastructure.

Under these restrictions, specifically named Zimbabweans, and members of their families, are barred from entry into the countries imposing the restrictions, from accessing education in these countries, operating banking accounts, acquiring properties, or effecting other investments, or engaging in any other economic or associated activities in, or with residents of, those countries.

In addition, none in those countries may have any economic interactions with the Zimbabwean government, its parastatals and other government-related enterprises. But, as with the US, neither the EU nor any Commonwealth countries have prescribed trade or other constraints, restrictions, or sanctions upon the private sector of the Zimbabwean economy, or upon Zimbabweans in general.

None of these factors have precluded the hierarchy of Zanu PF from endlessly striving to mislead the Zimbabwean population into believing that Zimbabwe’s grievous economic ills are a consequence of malicious, malevolent, international sanctions, thus diverting attention from the fact that the economic ills have almost wholly been caused by government over the period preceding the formation of the inclusive government.

If that hierarchy were to be believed, none of the decimation of the economy is attributable to the governmental destruction of agriculture, which was the foundation of the economy, or to the state’s profligate spending far beyond national means, to the recurrent recourse to excessive printing of money (unsupported by reserves), to grossly excessive regulation of the economy, to intensified bureaucracy and creation of a non-welcoming investment environment, to the failure to contain corruption and implicit condonation of such corruption, to disregard for international norms of protection of human and property rights and of maintenance and implementation of just law and order, and to near abolition of the fundamental principles of democracy.

 

Nay, according to the Zanu PF hierarchy, all of these are figments of the imagination of Zimbabwe’s enemies, at home and abroad, and in no manner the cause of the Zimbabwean economic morass. But most Zimbabweans, and the world at large, know otherwise!

Admittedly, there are some negative economic consequences of the USA, EU, and certain Commonwealth countries’ restrictions.

On the other hand, the intensely debilitated state of most parastatals and their pronounced service delivery inadequacies are exacerbated by the international restrictions. On the other hand, some residents of the restrictee countries have developed reservations and concerns over travelling to, and investing in, Zimbabwe, being aware of the imposed restrictions which implicitly (and with substance!) indicate that all is not well in Zimbabwe.

But there can be no doubt that the endless berating of the imposers of the restrictions is actually founded upon, in part, resentment at the personalised restraints and, in part, to perpetuate the misleading of the Zimbabwean population as to the real causes of Zimbabwe’s economic ills.

This was clearly evidenced by the statements at the recent Sadc Summit in Kinshasha, where much emphasis was placed upon the contended injustice of the personalised restrictions. And it was even more emphatically demonstrated when a high-powered EU delegation visited Zimbabwe last week.

Instead of providing Zimbabwe with a positive reconciliation opportunity, a scathing, racist verbal attack was voiced against the delegation before it had even arrived.

The President suggested that the EU sanctions were not targeted, for he is still in office, and in the meanwhile the populace is suffering.

(A limited extent of the suffering can be attributed to the EU restrictions, but the primary cause of the suffering is the devastation that government wrought on the economy for over 10 years).

He also said that “we can’t get grants from banks including the World Bank because of the London and Washington imposed sanctions”. He failed to ascribe prolonged non-receipt of funding from the Bretton Wood’s institutions to Zimbabwe’s pronounced payment defaults, or to acknowledge that, in the last fortnight, Zimbabwe received US$512, 3m from the IMF.

Inevitably, therefore, one must assume that in the endless and scathing castigation of the international community, those doing so are pursuing their own agenda, placing their interests above those of the nation, no matter how greatly they may protest to the contrary.

Eric Bloch

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