Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Zimbabwe Now Fed Up With Sanctions!

Zim now fed up with sanctions!

Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:54
Zimbabwe Herald

AT long last, after 10 years of sitting on its hands, the Zimbabwean Government has launched an anti-sanctions campaign aimed at getting the debilitating Western economic sanctions removed.

BAFFOUR ANKOMAH was in Harare when an ebullient President Mugabe launched the campaign on March 3.

IN 2001and 2002, Britain, the USA, EU and their allies imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe in reaction to the country's land reform programme that took land from 4,500 white commercial farmers and distributed it to over one million black farmers.

Alongside the economic sanctions were personal ones, including travel bans and asset freezing imposed on individual officials and companies allegedly linked to President Mugabe's Government, and the ruling Zanu-PF party.

These individuals and companies have since been prevented from doing business with American, British and EU nationals and firms.

As the sanctions were imposed outside the UN's prescribed rules, the Zimbabwean Government considers them "illegal", and has been calling (without doing much more than that) for their removal for the past 10 years, to no avail.

Not surprisingly, the sanctions-imposing countries have been able to use the long tentacles of their media to convince the whole wide world that the sanctions are only targeting individuals and companies allegedly involved in or who have aided and abetted violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

And thus, the sanctions do not hurt the ordinary people of Zimbabwe at all. But that is so far from the truth that it beggars belief that the world has actually believed it.

For example, the USA's Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic and Recovery Act (Zidera), a punitive sanctions-imposing bill hastily passed by Congress in December 2001, and signed into law by President George W Bush, puts a blanket ban on all fresh lending to Zimbabwe and the rescheduling of its debts by International financial institutions, of which the USA is a member, such as the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The following is the actual wording of subsection 2 (c) of Zidera: "Multilateral financing restriction - Until the President (of the USA) makes the certification described in subsection (d), and except as may be required to meet basic human needs or for good governance, the Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United Sates executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against: (1) Any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe, or (2) Any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution".

Zidera defines "international financial institutions" as the multilateral development banks and the International Monetary Fund".

By "multilateral development banks", the Act means " the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (i.e., the World Bank), the International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Investment Corporation, the African Development Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency".

Thus the world will need a new dictionary to interpret the above as "personal sanctions", because they are not! In fact, since 2001 all Western banks (private or otherwise) have stopped lending to Zimbabwe as a country, and all Western governments and donors - and their allies - have ceased bilateral and other budgetary support to Zimbabwe as a country!

In short, Zimbabwe has been frozen out of the international financial system for the past decade, and it is therefore not true as Western governments always asset that the sanctions are only targeted at individuals and companies.

Or that the sanctions do not hurt ordinary Zimbabweans. They do! Any government (African or otherwise) that is not able to borrow (or in the case of Africa, receive donor support) is a government in trouble, and cannot meet the needs of its people.

For example, if the British government were prevented (by a Zidera) from having the 22,77 billion pound it borrowed in November last year to balance its books or the 163,4 billion pound it borrowed during the 2008-9 financial year, the British economy would go to pot and the people of Britain be hurt by the effects of that Zidera.

Thus, nobody needs the brain of a rocket scientist to deduce that the economic implosion in Zimbabwe in recent years has largely been due to the sanctions imposed on the country by the West and its allies. And it is these sanctions that the Zimbabwean Government now want removed!

New campaign

Since 2002, some concerned Pan-Africanists have been warning and urging President Mugabe's Government to make more than mere verbal calls for the removal of economic sanctions, and that it should carry the people along in the fight for their removal.

But even in a "revolutionary Zimbabwe" in the midst of its Third Chimurenga (third liberation war), the wheels of assimilation and action do move slowly. So it happens that the Government has now woken up 10 full years behind the prescient Pan-Africanist, and wants to do more to get the sanctions lifted.

The new campaign launched in Harare on March 3 was attended by tens of thousands of ordinary people who are now thoroughly fed up with the sanctions because their lives have been blighted by their effects.

The campaign hopes to collect two million signatures by Zimbabweans at home and abroad and other sympathetic people in Africa and beyond. The signatures will then be sent to the regional body, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), which will in turn forward them to the African Union, which will in turn transfer them to the United Nations for discussion and a vote by members of the General Assembly, and eventually by the Security Council, as a form of pressure for the removal of sanctions.

The UN Security Council Sanctions Committee has noted that "a great number of states and humanitarian organisations have expressed concerns at the possible adverse impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable segments of the population". But the EU insists that its sanctions target solely those judged responsible for human rights violations and preventing free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

The EU sanctions were recently renewed because of what it calls "a lack of progress in democratic reforms", despite the two-year-old power-sharing inclusive Government run by Zanu-PF and the two formations of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

But speaking at the launch of the anti-sanctions campaign, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Joseph Kanyekanye, said that the sanctions were hurting Zimbabwe's economy and preventing many local businesses from marketing their products in Europe and the USA.

He told the crowd that apart from the sanctions denying Zimbabwean companies access to lines of credit from multilateral lending institutions, British firms, like the leading supermarket chain Tesco, have also refused to buy farm produce from Zimbabwe.

"I have come here voluntarily to say no to sanctions," Kanyekanye said. "It is part of our 2010 resolution where more than 300 businesspeople said sanctions were not appropriate for Zimbabwe. We believe that sanctions have nothing to do with the human rights situation in the country . . . As Zimbabweans, we must fight the sanctions; and as CZI we had already taken a position a year ago against the sanctions because they have caused unnecessary disunity in the country."

Brian Tengwa (44) from Harare, believes he was laid off from his job at a car assembly plant in 2005 as a result of the sanctions. "We were told that the company could not import necessary parts for the assembling of cars because it was linked to influential people in Zanu-PF."

Innocent Makwiramiti, a Harare-based economist and former chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), agrees: "Many problems that Zimbabweans have suffered and still experience .are direct and indirect offshoots of the sanctions."

According to him, the restrictions on the operations of some local businesses and the withholding of financial aid contributed to the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy after 2001, which was followed by a collapse in social services and severe food insecurity.

"Zimbabwe receives no budgetary support from donors," Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Zimbabwe's minister of Regional Integration (one of the MDC-M's ministers in the inclusive Government) told an international conference in Rwanda in February 2011. And yet the Western donors insist there are no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

War of words

The anti-sanctions campaign has already led to a war of words between the EU and USA on the one hand, and the Zimbabwean Government on the other.

In early March, the EU bought two full pages of adverts in some local newspapers in Zimbabwe to match those run by the Government and the ruling Zanu-PF party.

The EU adverts insisted that there were no economic sanctions on Zimbabwe even though it admitted that the sanctions regime imposed on the country was broader than the measures taken against individuals, such as "suspension of government-to-government cooperation".

The EU, however, disingenuously refused to mention that in April 2007, its own Evaluation Services had published a study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by France, Belgium and the UK, in which the EU admitted that it had "rushed to impose measures against Zimbabwe" before allowing for dialogue as required by Article 8 of the ACP Cotonou Agreement.

On its part, America's response to the anti-sanctions campaign came via its ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, who wrote to criticise the state-owned newspaper The Herald for publishing adverts on the campaign allegedly placed by Zanu-PF's Information Department but disguised as "Government" adverts and adorned with the country's coat of arms.

"Zanu-PF is a political party which does not speak for the Government of this great country," the ambassador, an African-American, intoned. "Publishing such misrepresentation in advertising offends the dignity and intelligence of The Herald's readership," Ambassador Ray continued. "This is a political messaging campaign pure and simple. It is planned and executed by one political party, Zanu-PF, to the perceived advantage of its members."

And the ambassador was not finished: "For more than 10 years," he went on, "Zimbabwe has been ineligible to receive any type of international loan, regardless of US and EU opinions, due to its leaders' failure to make payments on its debts.

Zimbabwe's unpaid debts to the African Development Bank, IMF and World Bank put a stop to lending long before there were sanctions." And then came the climax: "Fewer than 120 Zimbabweans are named on the legal US sanctions list, almost all of them Zanu-PF leaders who had a hand in political violence against their fellow citizens.

They may not travel to the US or do business with US companies because Americans do not want them to enjoy the fruits of their corruption on our soil. This does not hurt other Zimbabweans." It was clear that Ambassador Ray was either merely playing politics or had not read his own country's punitive law, the Zidera.

But either way, he was not going to get away with it, not with President Mugabe's agile press secretary, George Charamba, lying in wait. Charamba hit back hard in his newspaper column challenging the sanctions-imposing countries to stop lying to the world.

"Of course the EU narrative makes no reference to the EU study that clearly admitted that the EU was in too much of a British hurry to get to Article 96 before allowing for dialogue as required by the Cotonou Agreement," he wrote.

Turning to the American Ambassador, Charamba said the African-American envoy had made issue with the fact that a Zanu-PF advert run by The Herald had a national coat of arms embossed on it. "What a point to make Mr American Ambassador! Can a publisher alter (an advert) without bringing risks upon himself? I thought America is where the signs of paid communication achieved excellence," Charamba said.

"More fundamentally, why is (the ambassador) threatened by two logos which are laid out coextensively? How does that pose ‘a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the interests of the United States of America'?

What has that to do with representing America in Zimbabwe. . .? ‘This is a political messaging campaign pure and simple,' bellows the ambassador. Yes, it is, Mr Ambassador.

"Where is the problem?" Charamba asked sarcastically. The US government claims that it imposed its sanctions on Zimbabwe because the alleged lack of democracy in the country poses "a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the interests of the United States of America".

That is what the preamble of Zidera said in 2001. And it is still the stand of President Barack Obama's administration, which has since coming into office two years ago, twice renewed the sanctions?

Addressing the Ambassador on the other substantive issues he had raised, Charamba said that if indebtedness were the basis for being made ineligible for fresh loans, America would be in serious trouble currently, "with its anaemic economy".

If that stopped Zimbabwe from getting loans, Charamba argued, why did the USA insert in Zidera the clause that orders US representatives in international financial institutions to oppose the granting of fresh loans to Zimbabwe?

"How many states in Europe are getting loans after defaulting? How many countries - including dictatorships - have benefited from American generosity against defaults and (a) poor human rights record, since 2001?

Why make duplicitous arguments, sir?" Charamba wanted to know. Interestingly, much of what Ambassador Ray said was in sync with the views of Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister in Zimbabwe's inclusive Government, who did not attend the campaign launch because he claimed it was a Zanu-PF activity.

In fact, none of the opposition ministers in the inclusive Government attended the launch, even though the Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutamabara (from the smaller MDC faction), said in a speech a day later that sanctions were in fact real, and were hurting the country and people as a whole.

Days later, Tsvangirai admitted to Alec Russell of The Financial Times (London) in an interview in his home in Harare: "We (the MDC-T) are in a vicious position. We want the sanctions removed but Zanu-PF is doing everything to ensure they are retained". How?

Tsvangirai did not elaborate, and Alex Russell, who did his utmost in the interview to get Tsvangirai to say bad things about Mugabe without success ("I used to think that he (Mugabe) is callous and all that.

But you know what? He's human after all. He's very humane. . ."), said Tsvangirai ‘‘sounded less convincing" on the sanctions. - New African

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