With the British government’s announcement that the removal of sanctions depends largely on the MDC-T and the decision by the European Union to extend the said measures by a year and add more people to the list, the subject has regained first page status.
Zanu PF has come out with guns blazing, claiming that the UK announcement was a vindication of its continued re-iteration that MDC –T is the pampered doll of the Western world.
MDC-T has replied to the effect that the utterance by the British government is a simple re-affirmation of the necessity for democratic reforms before Zimbabwe can re-establish relations with the international community.
However, what is generally known in mainstream Zimbabwean politics and the media as “sanctions” are different types of restrictions or injunctions — different in aspect and cause.
A closer analysis of the issue will reveal that economic sanctions- denying the country the privilege of borrowing from international financial institutions are hindering the total revival and development of the Zimbabwean economy.
There are also political sanctions that have made certain politicians, their families and our embassies overseas persona non grata.
If the truth is to be told, the restrictions placed on the political elite, some state-owned companies and in some instances the country, are an international reflection of the restrictions placed on ordinary Zimbabweans locally.
While the political elite was bemoaning their inability to access frozen funds in foreign banks, the ordinary Zimbabweans were mourning their inability to access their money from local banks.
Again, while those in power were crying foul because their wives could not go shopping around the fashion capitals of the world, the average Zimbabwean had resigned himself/herself to the fact that shopping was a rarity.
Parents and guardians across the Zimbabwean divide could no longer send their children to school as no learning was taking place.
Conversely, the international community also barred the children of the political elite from learning in their schools and universities.
The point here is that whatever restrictions the former ruling party imposed on the ordinary Zimbabwean, denying citizens their basic human, economic and social rights- were rightly replicated on them by the international community.
The roughshod manner in which Zanu PF has been governing the country for the past decade or so has seen the state enacting laws that are an insult to human dignity and are in direct contravention of international laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the African Charter on the Rights of the African Child, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights.
The colonial anachronism that is the Law and order (Maintenance) Act, re-packaged as the Public order and Security Act, is used to restrict the freedoms of association and movement. Countless activists and opposition politicians were incarcerated using this law.
Also, the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act was enacted to stifle dissenting views, disseminate propaganda and monopolise the airwaves while denying Zimbabweans the freedom of expression.
An unemployment rate of 85% made a joke of the right to livelihood while shops full of empty shelves mocked the citizens’ right to food.
In addition, while ministers and the head of state relaxed in their mansions paid for by the taxpayer, “Operation Murambatsvina” put paid to any hope of the right to shelter for at least 2, 4 million people.
On the economic front, the lack of fiscal discipline, bad monetary policies, corruption and inept management of public funds by the Zanu PF government virtually killed Zimbabwe’s economy; relegating the nation from being the breadbasket of the region to being the epitome of hunger that it was and also leading to the closure of banks, industries and companies.
After leading the country into the Democratic Republic of Congo war that sucked $3 million daily from national coffers thus depriving thousands of their sons, brothers and fathers, the Zanu PF government went on to distribute gratuities to war veterans using non-existent funds.
To add insult to injury, the government took the noble idea of land resettlement, bastardised it and poorly executed it as the disastrous “fast track” re-distribution programme, forgetting the citizen’s right to property.
The result was a nation that could hardly feed itself and resettled peasants with hardly a hoe to farm the land with.
As if not to be outdone by the Agriculture minister, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono started playing games with our money — removing zeros as he liked and printing new notes when he wished, thereby allowing inflation to skyrocket faster than a New Year’s day cracker.
Some ministers helped themselves to parastatals while others chose to use their positions to their advantage in awarding tenders. Little or no legal recourse was made to prosecute the erring politicians.
It was as if the law was made for petty plebeians and not for the petit bourgeoisie regardless of the stipulation in the UDHR Article 7 & 9 to the effect that all are equal before the law.
These developments make it even more presumptuous and hollow for Zanu PF to call for the removal of “illegal sanctions”. It is the classic case of the pot demanding that the fire stops burning it when the pot is still boiling the water. The pot being Zanu PF while the water is the people. It is a superfluous attempt by the ruling elites to involve ordinary Zimbabweans in their personal problems.
Most Zimbabweans actually await the lifting of sanctions against them by the ruling elite; sanctions that have resulted in most people opting for menial and degrading jobs in foreign lands as their country failed to provide for them.
Still others spend time as vagabonds in neighbouring countries where they are constant victims of “Zimbophobia” because they are running away from persecution by the state and the internal persecution of civic society activists.
All these are sanctions against Zimbabweans which the ruling elite should first deal with before agitating for the removal of restrictive measures against them by Europe and the US.
Nhlanhla Mpofu is an academic specialising in development and public policy in Bulawayo. He can be contacted at email@example.com.