Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Of sanctions and trips to Washington DC

By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

I mean, talk about bad timing. Talk about bad taste, hell, think of any cliche about putting your foot in it and you have it all in one ill advised trip and some unfortunate statements from friends and colleagues that really, really, ought to know better.

Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student leader turned lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Former University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student leader and lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

The optics are bad. No matter how you want to dress it, that MDC Alliance and Human Rights activists’ trip to Washington DC was a disaster for the opposition.

In my view, it even eclipses that cheque-wielding queue of white farmers waiting to donate to the MDC in 2000: at least there was no treachery in that, citizens must be able to donate to whichever political party they want and that was, after all, a meeting for commercial farmers. It wasn’t as if they trekked to MDC HQ and just happened to be all white.

Yes, no-one actually said “let’s increase sanctions on Zimbabwe”, but that is the effect. No amount of dissembling will blot out the fact that on the very day that the European Union decided that it was okay to resume doing business with Thailand, a country ruled for the last three years by a military junta that deposed a democratically elected President in order to arrest some criminals in government, we are asking the West to not do business with our own country until certain people win elections. Because that seems to be the only logic: the only political reform that will suffice for sanctions to be lifted, for debt relief to be offered, is an amendment to the laws making it illegal for anyone other than the opposition to win political power. So it seems.

I do not know why President Mnangagwa in his meeting with the MDC Alliance and Human Rights activists failed to assure them about his commitment to political reforms. I do not know why he failed to inform them of Justice Makarau’s intention to resign, or his appointment of the G40 targeted Prosecutor General, or the decision to trim the budget for Zanu PF’s congress. Because in the 18 days of President Mnangagwa’s tenure before that Washington DC treachery, surely he could have mentioned these things to them.

Oh! Wait a minute! They never met him, did they? They never even made an effort to meet with the man, to hear what he is planning about reforming the electoral playing field. The opposition continues to fight Mugabe, despite him being gone, so there was no need to meet with the new President and hear what his take is on the issues that they decided to take vonomurevera kuAmerica.

If there was a genuine need to talk about political reforms, why not schedule a meeting with the new President and ask him: who is going to replace Justice Makarau? Why not arrange a meeting with the President and present the list of things that would make the electoral map even? When he was Minister of Justice, did the new President not say that he thought the Electoral Act must be amended to align with the constitution? Why run to Washington DC when driving up to State House seems so much quicker?

Do we seriously think that kurevera President to there Americans will make him shake in his boots and suddenly go running to the US Congress and says “please, I admit it, I am sorry and will fix things”? Have we seen the resolve and pride of our people lately? Did his inaugural speech not promise change, and reforms, and elections in 2018? Where is the goodwill, the giving of the benefit of doubt? Where is the patriotism? Are we so deluded in our thirst for power that we think that only ‘me, myself and I’ can bring change to Zimbabwe and no-one else?

When one is talking about friends, one tries to be circumspect with language. I like mkoma Tendai Biti, when I speak to Chamisa he says ‘mkoma’ and my texts to him start with ‘munin’ina’. Welshman might be dead to me, but one would think that even he too knows that while you can play for Higlanders and I play for Dynamos, when we come to the national team we fight for the common goal. But on this, come now people, this was offside. Besides, my brothers, nothing good ever comes with going on foreign trips with Welshman, ask Morgan Tsvangirai and his Ari ben Menashe fiasco.

Arguing that sanctions do not affect anyone is stupid, because they do. The ‘targeted sanctions’ we have had since 2005 have not stopped Grace and her brood owning hotels and houses in places like Canada, France, Dubai, Singapore and South Africa. Did you see the cars that Grace and her sons bought recently? Did you see the house that Kasukuwere built? Have you heard how much was in Chombo’s house, as cash, when he was nabbed?

Sanctions affect Mr and Mrs John Q Public. Our common folk, who are reduced to the level of beggars in their own country and worse abroad. Sanctions do not even affect those in the opposition, with their access to Parliament allowances and business deals. Show me a poor opposition MP and I will raise you my mum. Show me a starving relative of any of the people in that delegation to Washington DC and I will raise you my village.

Chiang Kai Sheik and Zhou Enlai were bitter enemies, but when the Japanese invaded, the latter freed the former from prison so that together they might face the foreign invaders. They later resided their fight, and built China and Taiwan to where they are now in the world. That is what statesmen do.

These people we run crying to, these Americans and them Europeans, they do not like us. They are guilty of robbing our resources during colonialism and superintending over a system that keeps us subjugated even now, but they do have a moral compass that says they need at least some justification to avoid doing anything that might remotely look like helping us. Through trips like this, we have given them this excuse. Now they can decide to not assist us with balance of payments support and debt relief because, after all, our own people think they should not.

That trip gave the West an alibi, to keep our people suffering. We know it is not about the government: doing business with Thailand’s military rulers just because they have promised elections in November 2018 is proof that it matters not to the West what reforms are in place, just what the West gets out of the deal. We offer less than Thailand, and our misguided politicians just provided them with  a copout.

The people of Zimbabwe are not stupid. They know who removed Mugabe, and who said ‘Mugabe is not really gone’. They know who said ‘come let us reason together, and fix this country and recover our footing’, and who went to Washington DC to say ‘don’t help our country until after elections in 2018’.

To paraphrase Joshua 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve Zimbabwe, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the West which in 2000 you were seen to serve… but as for most Zimbabweans and their households, we will serve the country of our heritage.” By any reckoning, the trip to Washington DC was another PR disaster that will meet its comeuppance in the ballot box.

  • Why is it Difficult to have free and fair Elections

  • Aitwa here ma elections acho ZANU ika regar

  • T Moyo

    Well articulated I hope the mdc sellouts will have time to go through this.

  • ZIMBABWE must get rid of this DISEASE called ZANU PF for good, lets register vote, we want Legitimate free and Fair Elections. Viva Viva MDC, till we have legitimate elections, free and fair Elections, viva Opposition

  • I don’t see any need for all this noise political parties all over the world do engage with other nations.what is the problem if people tell the world that they are not happy with the army being all over when we are not in a war situation?

    • What were they doing KU Gwanzura nepa solidarity march vanhu ve MDC muchiyimba kunebzira dzemasoldier u supported it u confused lot

    • Truth about MDC alliance’s visit to U.S.A
      Award-winning journalist and New York Times Foreign Correspondent Hopewell Chin’ono has said that the MDC may have misread the public mood in Zimbabwe, by going to give testimony before the United States SenateChin’ono also said that the opposition may have wasted an opportunity to have a meaningful national dialogue with Zimbabweans emphasizing that the United States of America will never change the government of ZimbabweWriting on his Facebook page, Chin’ono said:

      The morning after the car crash senate hearings… I am still shocked that there are Zimbabweans who are not political enough to know and understand that sanctions against Zimbabwe will not affect Emmerson Mnangagwa, but their mothers and fathers in the townships and villages scattered around the country.

      When the government is denied a line of credit and fails to raise foreign exchange to import fuel, it is ordinary Zimbabweans that will sleep in fuel queues, not Emmerson Mnangagwa.

      We are currently pushing for the diaspora vote to be granted so that our compatriots abroad can exercise their right to vote, how do you expect a sitting president not allowed to go and campaign in the diaspora due to ZIDERA sanctions to grant that right?

      I just couldn’t wrap my head around Dewa Mavhinga’s request for the US government to retain its current foreign policy around Zimbabwe, a foreign policy which is anchored on The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 which has punitive economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

      Dewa Mavhinga said and asked the US government to, and I quote him; “Maintain existing US policy toward Zimbabwe until the military removes itself from politics and the 2018 elections are legitimately assessed to be peaceful, transparent, free and fair and that power is smoothly transmitted to the newly elected government.”

      All the things he spoke of have been overridden by his request to maintain a foreign policy which includes sanctions on Zimbabwe.

      I would understand if Mr Biti and his gang had said that they had engaged the Zimbabwean government and that the new President and his government did not respond positively.

      They haven’t even engaged the new administration whose ministers have only been in office for exactly eight working days.

      How do we expect a government that has been in office for a week to undo a 37-year legacy and how do we expect our requests to be acted upon by this government when we haven’t presented them to the new administration?

      All these questions require good old common sense and nothing deeply intellectualThis trio failed to heed Sun Tzu’s pertinent adviceThe legendary Chinese General said that you must really know your enemy, its weaknesses and strengths.

      Biti and co have energized the hardliners in President Mnangagwa’s ruling party, hardliners that were always wary of dealing with the MDC.

      Instead of giving ammunition to the reformers in ZANUPF, they have made it difficult for such people to have a case and to convince their colleagues to push the required electoral reforms through.

      This now has the effect of the opposition not having a seat on the table that will be directing the political change in ZimbabweWhen this happens, don’t fool yourself that it is ZANU-PF that will suffer, it is us the people.

      The ruling elites will not miss a meal because the economy is in bad shapeRobert Mugabe proved this to us during the 17 years he ruled under sanctions.

      He never missed the opportunity to upgrade his US$700000 Pullman Mercedes Benz Limousine because of sanctionsIt was those of us who were living in Zimbabwe that bore the brunt of the economic meltdown down.

      It was your parents and grandparents that went without water, drove on potholed roads, suffered from electricity load shedding, the list goes on.

      The ruling political elite built houses like Savior Kasukuwere’s and drove in 4 X 4s, bought generators and drilled boreholes

      They never felt the effects of sanctions.

      I now fail to understand what Dewa and Co hoped to achieve by calling for the US government to carry on with the punitive measuresZimbabweans who ululated at the misdirected speeches show a very limited and narrow understanding of politics.

      They don’t understand the relatedness of thingsDewa Mavhinga argued that direct financial assistance should only come after the elections, and what happens to the economy in the meantime.

      I have to say this, the people that purportedly spoke on our behalf don’t stay in Zimbabwe except for Tendai Biti who is extremely wealthy.

      Dewa Mavhinga lives in Johannesburg and Peter Godwin the author of the book, Rhodesians Never Die, lives in New York.

      They will not feel the corrosiveness of what they have asked forIt is those of us who live and work in Zimbabwe that will feel the punishment of these economic punitive sanctions.

      It is us who will feel the heat of the backlashIt is also us that will go out and vote for a new governmentAgain one wonders whether the opposition and its surrogates like Dewa Mavhinga and Peter Godwin understand the relatedness of things.

      The MDC Alliance and its surrogates have misread the Public mood in ZimbabweThey have thrown out an opportunity for meaningful national dialogue which is directed by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans.

      America can not and will not change governments in Zimbabwe, it is Zimbabweans who can do thatThey should have spoken to Zimbabweans first and mobilized at home.

      What is the net effect of this schoolboy error? Time will tell.

  • “The optics are bad. No matter how you want to dress it, that MDC Alliance and Human Rights activists’ trip to Washington DC was a disaster for the opposition.” I couldn’t agree more…

    • Its a disaster to Zanupf and all other enemies of free and fair elections.I dont see anything wrong in lobbying other countries to help us to conduct free and fair elections.WHY IS zanupf and its surrogates so afraid of holding credible elections?

    • So vote Zanu and stay hungry

    • As much as I see a space for ‘lobbying’ I think they should have started by initiating conversation with ED. As the author of the article rightly puts its…zvinoita sekunge vaenda kunorevera ED. In all honesty, why should the US care about free and fair elections in Zim?

  • Exchange

    Well said…i hope the Mdc lunatics will get this message

  • Chikuyochisamarengu

    Munongo vukura ana Chinyoka! Do you think that these guys don’t want to see Zimbabwe prosper? You think, we don’t know your sponsors? Enemy of progress, Chai!

  • succuba

    @Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

    Are you willing to debate here?

  • Rwendo

    I am assuming that the senate did not convene a committee just for the benefit of the Bitis but rather the opposite; in reviewing its policy The US Senate invited these people to give input. That is how that democracy works – by consultation. But that is neither here nor there.

    1. The conditions the US articulated are ones that any Zimbabwean wanting to see a better Zimbabwe should see as a reasonable minimum. 2. If the Mnangagwa executive plans to deliver on substantive reform in the coming months then they surely have nothing to vex about; and the sooner they deliver the better for all concerned.3. In the interim, if anyone is itching for someone to point at and blame for our predicament, or for the US targeted sanctions (which as of March 2016 applied to “98 Zimbabwean individuals and 68 entities (mostly farms and legal entities owned by the 98 individuals”), then they should swivel their fingers away from Biti and Chamisa and ask for directions to the ‘shake-shake building’. In particular they should ask for the small gang who saw to it that our vote in 2008 was overturned and Mugabe forced down our throats for another 9 years).

  • sarah Mahoka

    THE opposition have no case except that they want to be the ones in power.Even if there where all neessary reforms as long as at the end of the day the opposition loses they will still go back to cry there were no reforms. the opposition is power hungry and there is no satisfying them.

  • KuraiMGT

    That was tactless. More like shooting yourself in the foot. Politicians are a rare breed i guess

  • lot chitakasha

    I agree, an avoidable own goal…I am especially shocked by Chamisa, a man I respect. Biti is a petty bourgeois, he might be out of touch with the people and Mavhunga…Crisis Zimbabwe(is he still there)…it is in his interests for the crisis to continue.

  • You are spot on Tino.

  • Just do yo own trips why worry abt others

  • Who said the elections are not going to be free and fair. Who said there would not be any departure from how the elections were being held in the past. Why do people want to always speculate on the negatives.

  • MDC is jumping the gun period,varikukurumidza kumedza kutsenga kuchada

  • That democracy which entitles them to freedom of speech and opinion just to mention a few.As an individual in government do your own pitch to American government about progress you have done as a government.Its normal in a democracy to disagree its brings out good ideas .

  • Kambiri

    Chinyoko, this article is so relevant and MDCs should take heed and repair the damage. Rewind last week Obert Gutu is reported to have called on their supporters to now apply for Land. Is the MDCs policy that if they are not in power people must suffer and sanctions can only be removed when they are in power? Sanctions instead made Grace and company richer, while the poor got poorer and hopeless. Good piece of writing Chinyoka.

  • why is the trip a threat to zanu pf next year people wil be bitten i tell u

  • Fox

    Well truth is this Chinyoka guy is singing for relevance. What has the reduction of a ZANU PF budget for factional purposes has to do with our politics? That is a zanu pf affair? What has Rita Makarau resignation to do with conducting of free and fair elections? It was never about individuals but institutional and policy reforms. How did Mnangagwa get to be President? Was it through elections ? If he was a proponent of free elections as you are trying to make the world believe then he was supposed to get into power through elections and not otherwise. You are even conflicting yourself. You posit that these Americans and Europeans do not like us, yet you seem to infer that they have the power to help us with balance of payment support. What hypocritical thinking on your part? You make unfounded allegations in your writing that the opposition only wants free and fair elections so long they are the winners? Really? The opposition have been on the sidelines for two decades, patiently participating in political processes that were never fair to them? Do you know that, or you will choose to appear level headed and sing for attention instead? What has Mnangagwa done besides removing Mugabe through a coup and holding a factional congress? Zero. Why should the opposition wait whilst the clock is ticking towards elections, hoping that the crocodile will give them a safe ride across the river?

    • Tsuro

      Great argument written by a person with a deep understanding of African politics and in particular the Zimbabwean situation.

  • Mapishingori

    I like your writing skills comrade Chinyoka. However, your arguments are SERIOUSLY FLAWED, for one reason, LACK OF CONTEXT. Here is the thing, in 2008, the present MILITARY JUNTA, fronted by the VERY ED Mnangagwa, MURDERED AND MAIMED MDC supporters in the so called OPERATION WAVHOTERA PAPI, in order to prop Mugabe. Now, 9 years later, the VERY SAME JUNTA, fronted by the VERY SAME Mnangagwa, depose Mugabe and, with the TWINKLING of an eye (ABRACADABRA), they are clean and SAINTS. As a result, MDC should TRUST them and believe whatever they say. My BIG HEAD! Where on earth do you live Mr Chinyoka? PaChiShona we say chinokanganwa idemo, kwete muti wakatemwa. But you decide to whitewash the heinous crimes committed by Zanu simply because they say we are now in a NEW ERA! New era a.k.a. OPERATION RESTORE LEGACY. What legacy, of murder and plunder and human rights abuses? And WHOSE legacy? And then you hear Chris Mutsvangwa say its IRRESPONSIBLE to mention GUKURAHUNDI. Are you Zanu guys aware that, to date, the NAZIS are still being hunted and prosecuted? But comrade Chinyoka, a LAWYER FOR THAT MATTER, chooses to ignore ALL this. Not only that, but also decides to INSULT people (MDC) who are SIMPLY SAYING, FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS PLEASE! Finally, where were you when ED and Chiwenga were murdering and maiming MDC supporters?. Were you not in the diaspora (like me)? Then what gives you the moral ground to denigrate people who suffered terribly under the very military junta that presides over the government of Zimbabwe today? So please, before you show off your skills of beautiful writing (will give you an A++), give us the CONTEXT also. Otherwise do not insult people, keep quiet, just like us.

  • Muchati Bhuu

    The problem is Zimbabweans are between a hard place and a rock.The West are willing to see us suffer till we agree to let them loot our resources for a song.At the same time Zanupf members are the least patriotic Zimbabweans one can ever meet…its a bunch of mafia busy externalisi g as much as they can before they die.Worse still, the opposition is very dysfunctional and do not inspire confidence.And going to Washington with a pro sanctions message will never endear them to the population.Hence, ultimately Chinyoka may be correct in saying Munangagwa may have changed….lets see what he can do….why not call for the removal of sanctions which have been used as a scapegoat by Zanupf and have contributed to our suffering as well.