Zimbabwe Sanctions is Counter-Productive

For those who for what so ever reason had given United States of America President Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt have to think again especially with regards to his recent pronouncements on Zimbabwe. On Wednesday, March 4, the United States president, in perpetuation of the old George W. Bush regime change drive, decided to extend the almost decade-old sanctions against the country.

“I am continuing for one year the national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe,” Obama said in a statement.

This was in line with the claim by George W. Bush earlier on that tiny Zimbabwe somehow posed “a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States”.

The action by the new United States president only cemented the broader view that the United States’ interest in Zimbabwe has always been aimed at furthering a narrow neo-colonialist policy that seeks to enchant white dominance.

For all his black pigment, African roots and good oratory, he remains a pawn in the centuries-old Western imperialist wars and schemes of conquest.

Not that Zimbabwe expected to reap anything out of his pigmentation.

The fact that the political environment in the country is currently undergoing a makeover with the recent consummation of an all-inclusive Government seems to have escaped the United States government.

This is not to imply that the basis upon which the punitive Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act was correct.

The matter has not been helped by the fact that some former opposition functionaries, who earlier on supported the sanctions, have to date failed to soundly condemn them for reasons better known to themselves.

How Zimbabwe is posing a continuing unusual and “extraordinary threat” to the United States baffles the mind, unless of course Washington is opposed to the right to self-determination for the people of Zimbabwe.

The United States foreign policy is generally vague in what it purports to seek to achieve.

The US promotes itself as the world’s foremost proponent of human rights and they would want everyone to believe that the sanctions have been targeted at a selected few individuals within the Zimbabwe Government and Zanu-PF.

Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara recently echoed the widely acknowledged sentiment that sanctions, call them targeted or not, tend to affect the most vulnerable of the society.

Article 4 of ZIDERA stipulates that neither the United States government, its agencies and agents, nor any international institution where America has a vested interest should give Zimbabwe any form of credit or financial support.

The list of such institutions includes the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and even the African Development Bank.

Where then is the affection of the United Sates government towards ordinary Zimbabweans when President Obama continues perpetuating the discredited Bush legacy?

How is the country going to recover when lines of international credit and balance of payments support continue to be blocked by countries like the United States through ZIDERA?

The most crippling feature of the US human rights policy in Zimbabwe as well as other countries has been its unabashed selectivity.

Nowhere is this more pronounced as in the Middle East.

Is it not ironic that as Obama was issuing his statement in Washington, his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was endorsing the continued violation of the Palestinian people’s rights by pledging unwavering support to Israel genocide and human rights abuses?

By continuing the sanctions regime, the United States and their European cousins have proved beyond any iota of doubt that the issue at hand has nothing to do with democracy.

At a time when there has been a growing chorus from Sadc, the African Union and many other international bodies like Comesa and the Non- Aligned Movement for the world to support Zimbabwe and remove the illegal sanctions, America is trying its level best to torpedo all efforts to rebuild this country.

Seemingly oblivious to the true situation prevailing in the country, the United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee has continued to advocate for regime change while discrediting the inclusive Government simply because Washington never wanted to see this happening.

Addressing members of staff at Africa University in Mutare recently, McGee poured cold water on the Global Political Agreement and urged the two Movement for Democratic Change parties to pull out of the arrangement.

So the collective wisdom of the country’s political parties, regional bodies, continental organisations and even the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that resulted in the charting of this path is warped, at least in the eyes of the Westerners?

Are they questioning the intelligence of the rest of the world and claiming that they are the only ones who think?

What is operating here is a blatant case of double standards of the worst order.

How else would one explain the fact that countries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, that account for more than 70 percent of global United States military aid, are insulated from even the mildest and most indirect forms of rebuke despite the widely publicised allegations of human rights violations?

The differences between Zimbabwe and the West over the last decade have not been about human rights but control over resources.

Zimbabweans are a hardworking people and all being equal are very ashamed of surviving from handouts and very much want to be in control of their own destiny.

As the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, pointed out in his inaugural address to Parliament earlier this year the relationship between the country and the Western donors should be “respectful of our sovereignty, not a relationship essentially based on humanitarian assistance”.

The United States government owes it to the people of Zimbabwe that the sanctions be removed.

The success of the inclusive Government hinges on the unblocking of the economic lines of credit more than in their selfish attempt to protect the unjustifiable control of a nation’s resources by a few individuals.

The continued existence of sanctions on the country is extremely counter-productive and will certainly not achieve anything positive for the people of Zimbabwe.