Sanctions a smokescreen for Zanu PF’s failure
Opinion by John Banda
The argument for keeping sanctions is that they were instrumental in bringing an end to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and apartheid regimes.
But that only worked after every one of Rhodesia’s neighbours, including South Africa, had come on board the idea that Smith’s “no black rule in 1 000 years” was untenable. There is little evidence that any of Mugabe’s Sadc neighbours believe that “no regime change in 1 000 years” is such a bad idea today.
Sadc had reached a verdict on Zimbabwe’s July 31 elections before polling had closed. It was a standing ovation for Zimbabwe for graduating from rigging with petrol-bombing to rigging without petrol-bombing.
The West is fighting a losing battle against the victors’ version of history. Anyone under 60 was not yet in their teens in 1965 when British PM Harold Wilson vowed that the RF regime would be brought to its knees in weeks, if not days. Such was its loathing of Rhodesia’s race-based Land Apportionment Act.
That is a massive captive audience Zimbabwe Broadcast Holdings has. It is no wonder they fear “pirate radio stations” broadcasting from Mozambique, as much as the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation did.
Since the spectacular collapse of “Zeros to Heroes” in 2008, there has been a ratcheting up of the propaganda that sanctions were imposed for the fact, rather than the manner of taking land from whites. That hoax is dwarfed only by the Nazi’s use of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to justify their terrifying jambanja against Jews beginning in the 1930’s.
But there is a serious side to the debate as to why the focussed sanctions applied over the past 10 years have been so much more debilitating than the general sanctions against all trade with Smith’s Rhodesia after 1965, including a naval blockade off Beira stopping oil getting in and exports getting out.
The sanctions you impose on yourself (Zanu-style) are always more crippling than the sanctions of the body, which is to say, those willed on you by others (Rhodesia-style).
The more charitable view of why the UNDP-funded Land Conference was scuttled 10 years ago, is that “illegal sanctions” saddled the ruling party with a persecution complex.
The less charitable one is that jambanja with Tony Blair’s gay gangsters was the perfect smokescreen for the new elite to grab the best farms.
The effect on everything from the country’s ability to generate funding for the resettled farmers, to attract Direct Foreign Investment and jobs, is not disputed by a single commentator.
The more the connected few muscle in on the benefits of indigenisation, the greater the need to put the blame on sanctions. That spin will never be debunked while the West stays on our backs.
Inept handling of the sanctions issue, in particular who is the victim and who is the thug in that debate, has probably been terminal for election prospects for the current opposition. But the cost to Zimbabwe’s democracy goes deeper.
The West’s apparently insatiable appetite for taking a stance on the moral issues of opposition politics, whether in Africa or the “Arab spring”, has been the kiss of death to the indigenous budding of democracy.
It is not coincidence that in countries like Malawi, where the West’s involvement has been low-key, and strictly non-party political, nascent democracy is robust. It is not that the politicians there are any better behaved. But their misdemeanours provoke immediate and unequivocal denunciation from the populace and civic society.
You often hear people say after a contest that it is a pity there had to be a loser. The general feeling after the Zimbabwe election, is that it is a pity there had to be a winner.
It is squarely thanks to both contestants, that Zimbabweans are today back to where they were 10 years ago. About to re-live another round of populist-driven misery.
Let us hope that when the next crop of democrats emerge, probably yet again from within the ranks of the revolutionary party, the West will be standing well to one side.
You can be sure there is one message Zanu PF would like to be more firmly dinned into the thick skulls of Western leaders than that sanctions on Mugabe must be removed.
That is that there must be no public announcement of such intention, for fear it would pull from right under Zanu PF’s feet their main election plank going into 2018.