Although at the recent Sadc Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, Zanu PF is said to have accepted the 30-day deadline for implementation of all outstanding items of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), it is showing contrary intent. As soon as its delegation had returned to Zimbabwe, it qualified that acceptance by imposing a pre-condition, knowing full well that that condition would not conceivably be met.
Within days of the supposed accord at the Summit that the unresolved issues of the GPA would be fulfilled forthwith, Zanu PF stated, dogmatically and aggressively, that it would only comply in the event that the so-called “illegal” sanctions imposed by diverse Western and Commonwealth countries were lifted in their entirety. In making that demand, it was undoubtedly fully aware that the prospects of that occurring are as improbable as Osama bin Laden being appointed emperor of the world, and all that is therein! If Zanu PF genuinely believes that its precondition will be heeded and accepted by the international community, it is guilty of extreme naivety, which is highly unlikely.
At the outset, the demand was couched in that party’s usual grossly confrontational and aggressive manner, once again the sanctions being described as “illegal”. There is absolutely no substance to that contention, for each and every country has an absolute right to determine whom it will trade with, and whom it will bar from trading with its residents. Similarly, every country is entitled to restrict access to it by anyone that it does not wish to enter its borders. Moreover, there is no law, international or otherwise, which prescribes that countries cannot impose trade or travel restrictions, save and except that all members of the United Nations are bound by its charter to allow travel for purposes of attendance at, and participation in, events of that body.
Secondly, it is very pronounced misrepresentation to claim that those international sanctions are the primary cause of Zimbabwe’s economic morass. From an economic point of view, the only negative consequence of the sanctions are that government, its parastatals, all entities in which government has an interest, and all enterprises wherein various named individuals in, or associated with, government, cannot trade with any in the sanctions-imposing countries, and cannot access funding from those countries. Whilst that undoubtedly has some negative consequences for the Zimbabwean economy, those consequences are minimal as compared to the vast array of economic constraints which afflict the economy, almost all of which were created by the pre-inclusive government. Sanctions were not the cause of decimation of agriculture, the decline in tourism, the alienation of foreign investor interest, the extreme hyperinflation that afflicted Zimbabwe until the end of 2008, the huge fiscal deficits, and much else. The causes were appallingly ill-considered, negative governmental policies, compounded by economic mismanagement by government over more than a decade. This included uncontrolled corruption, and the alienation of the goodwill of those who would be Zimbabwe’s real friends, as distinct from the fair-weather friends endlessly courted by Zanu PF.
Complete, comprehensive and unqualified implementation of the GPA, including genuine progress towards free, fair and democratic elections, would be the catalyst for reversal of Zimbabwe’s immense economic ills, setting the economy on the path to meaningful recovery and growth. That economic transformation would result in the progressive elimination of the extreme poverty, hardships and suffering which afflict almost 90% of the country’s populace. Building upon that catalyst with constructive, practical, just and equitable economic policies would progressively (albeit over an extended period of time) develop the Zimbabwean economy to one of the foremost on the African continent. This is bearing in mind the immense potential wealth obtainable from agriculture founded upon proven fertile land, an enormous treasure chest of numerous different minerals, a large variety of unique and spectacular tourism resources, a strongly established (although presently tragically declining) industrial base, and a very able and diligent population.
The implementation of the GPA would be the key to the door for major foreign and domestic investment, substantive international lines of credit in addition to relief from much of Zimbabwe’s enormous accumulated debt burden, substantive developmental aid and considerable other significant contributors to an economic turnaround. But it is ever more increasingly apparent that Zanu PF’s alleged support for the GPA is naught but a facade, primarily driven by a need to appease demands of Sadc and the African Union, and that in reality there is no genuine desire for the GPA, or for it to succeed. The consequence is that the economy, and its recovery, is yet again undermined, and the people of Zimbabwe doomed to yet even greater distress.
That there is such never-ending resistance to do the right things must inevitably be presumed to be for several reasons, of which foremost are:
lApparently many of the opponents to constructive change are imbued with deep-seated megalomania and paranoia. They are incapable of believing that they are capable of doing anything wrong, therefore, if anything is wrong, it is as a result of Machiavellian actions of others.
lPerceptions that failure to achieve economic turnaround can be attributed not only to mythical enemies abroad, but also to the partners within the GPA, thereby eroding electoral support for those partners, and hence retention of power with the progressive elimination of those partners.
lFor so long as international sanctions prevail, they can be blamed for the economic ills, thereby diverting realisation by the populace of the real causes of those ills.
lIn the unlikely event, without conceding to international and regional demands, the international sanctions are wholly lifted, then the approximately 200 hierarchy of Zanu PF and their associates and families would have freedom to travel wherever they wish. (The importance to them of this travel ability was loudly evidenced in the politburo’s post-Sadc Summit demand that any lifting of sanctions include the lifting of the travel restrictions).
Tragically, for Zimbabwe and the majority of its people, last week’s stance upon full completion of the GPA and upon the international sanctions was yet another Zanu PF driven nail into the coffin of the Zimbabwean economy. It is long overdue (but still not too late) for reason to prevail, and for Zimbabwe to be set upon the path to the recovery that the people so desperately desire, and deserve.
By Eric Bloch