The truth about western ‘sanctions’

Posted on Mar 7 2011 - 1:57pm by Esther Gomo

Zanu PF sanctions march

By Rejoice Ndlovu

“Illegal western sanctions” is now one of the most popular clichés in Zimbabwe’s national conversation. There are several key myths that are important to dispel about the position of foreign nations on the sanctions debate.

Sanctions are blocking economic recovery

Neither the United States or Britain maintain sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe or the country of Zimbabwe.  Sanctions target individuals and entities that have undermined democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe. 

More specifically, sanctions target individuals who, among other things, are senior officials of the Government of Zimbabwe, have participated in human rights abuses related to political repression and/or have engaged in activities facilitating public corruption by senior officials of the Government of Zimbabwe.

Sanctions also target entities owned or controlled by the Zimbabwean government or officials of the Zimbabwean government.  Unless a transaction involves a blocked individual or entity, U.S. persons may, and are encouraged to, conduct business in, and trade with, Zimbabwe and its people.

British ambassador, Mark Canning has said on many occasions that the targeted measures did not affect the economy, trade or business. Canning clarified that the EU measures imposed restrictions on 203 key figures of President Mugabe’s regime involved in the violence and human rights abuses.

The measures also affected 40 companies associated with these individuals and their sources of finance, he said.

There is a trade embargo against Zimbabwe

There is no US bilateral trade embargo against Zimbabwe.  Trade levels fluctuate, but in 10 of the past twelve years (with the exception of 2007 and 2009, when the global economic crisis affected nearly all markets), the trade balance between Zimbabwe and the United States has favoured Zimbabwe, often by a large margin.

According to Keith Scott, first secretary Political/Communications Affairs in the British embassy in Harare, UK exports to Zimbabwe between January and October 2009 were £15 million.  Zimbabwe exported to UK between January and October 2009 £49 million worth of goods. In 2008 UK exports to Zimbabwe were £21 million and Zim exports to UK in 2008 were £37 million.

“Zimbabwe actually runs a trade surplus with the UK,” Scott said. Another diplomatic source said the current diplomatic row between Harare and the EU had culminated in the imposition of legitimate “smart sanctions” based on the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement. A Western diplomat confirmed that the same was true in Europe: “The EU as a bloc remains one of Zimbabwe’s major trading partners,” he said. “It’s pie in the sky that sanctions are hurting the Zimbabwean economy.”

 Exports to the EU currently account for about 36 per cent of the country’s total exports and cover both traditional and non-traditional product lines. Major agricultural export products from Zimbabwe to the EU are tobacco, cotton, meat products, tree plants, and cut flowers.  Zimbabwe has also benefited from the STABEX fund for supporting export earnings owing to a decline in prices of commodity exports.

Aid has been cut off

In fact, the United States provided over US$300 million in 2009 and over US$200 million in 2010 for humanitarian, food, health, and democracy and governance assistance to Zimbabwe.  In 2011, the United States will continue to provide this level of assistance while also raising its commitment to fight HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe by US$10 million to a total of US$57.5 million.

According to Ambassador Canning, British aid to Zimbabwe continues. “Sanctions do not hurt ordinary Zimbabweans,” Canning said. “Indeed, levels of British aid – US$100 million last year – to ordinary Zimbabweans have never been higher.” Zimbabwe has always enjoyed a balance of trade surplus in its trade with the EU, despite claims that the sanctions were hurting trade. The EU is also a major donor for humanitarian assistance.

In a desperate attempt to add more fuel to the ‘sanctions’ fire, Zanu (PF) on Wednesday forced people in Harare to abandon their work stations to sign an ‘anti-sanction’ petition. “It’s either we attended the signing ceremony or we lose the market stalls that we were given by Zanu (PF) officials,” said a vendor.

At least 20 000 people attended the ceremony that was dominated by Zanu (PF) supporters clad in party regalia and punctuated by music exalting Mugabe in power since 1980. Thousands of the people were either forced to attend the event or as is the tradition of Zanu (PF) bussed. The use of force to ensure that there were signatures on the pages only goes to show the desperate lengths that the party will go to deceive the people. The Zimbabwean

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000020334271 Phillip Kwenda

    These sanctions should stay put, if pple think they are not working why is the regime always cry for their removal. They should stay until they start to respect the rule of law.

  • Oswell Jeranyama

    @Phillip,warova dede nemukanwa.Ngazvirambe zvakadaro kusvikira vaziva kuti vanhu havaurawi nekurohwa.Sanctions are there to stay untill conditions are back to normal in Zimbabwe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001277317496 Jonamu Dube

    Why is it that there is always someone or something to blame 4da shortcomings of our govt. No one is man enough or adult enough to admit whn they are wrong?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000740929661 Gerald Chikondowa

    Even without Sanctions, Zim was n will continue to crumble,why coz governence disappeared straight afta the war vets demanded payment for their otherwise wld have been honorable cause and many other mishaps thereafter. Failure by any Zim individual today is blamed on the West ,Just like Bob (good teacher !) n his cronies hide behind sunctions. Remove them n i promise u, the Titan wil stil sink.

  • Oswell Jeranyama

    Right now revenue generated from the sale of diamonds at Chiadzwa can not be accounted for and those busy stealing it blame sanctions for underdevelopment.

  • Yimi Lona

    “Sanctions also target entities owned or controlled by the Zimbabwean government or officials of the Zimbabwean govt.”

    so by and large, sanctions affect all except foreign-own companies, which continue to pay workers the same salary as the gvt does.

  • Tonderayi Tongoona

    You can not seperate a government and its people, if you sanction a government you also sanction its people, so please lets not fool anybody sanctions will never hurt Mugabe but will only hurt ordinary Zimbabweans. And yes they are blocking recovery, who would want to invest in a country whose leaders are sanctioned?????

  • ivhu

    sanctions should be removed!!!!!!! period