SADC heads of state set aside 25 October as the Anti-Sanctions day and this year’s commemoration were under the theme, “Resilience, Progress and Solidarity in an environment of sanctions.”
Most African states have for long been calling out the imposing countries to remove sanctions, pointing out their negative economic impacts.
Let us take a round trip to the roots of Zimbabwean sanctions.
From 2001, the European Union (EU) and United States of America (USA) imposed ‘targeted’ sanctions on Zimbabwe for ‘threatening regional stability, gross human rights violations and undermining democratic institutions.’
Since then, the Zimbabwean government has barely benefited directly from the USA and the EU. Even this has not stopped these institutions from conducting development programmes in the country.
Authorities in the country dismiss the rationale of these sanctions and instead call it a smokescreen to cover the punishment that the US and her allies are imposing on Zimbabwe.
Recently President Mnangagwa said, “Sanctions are a blunt coercive instrument with far-reaching implications on the ordinary people, especially women, children, youths and the elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from chronic illnesses. My country’s citizens have fallen victim to this indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction which is being deceitfully presented to the world as targeted.”
The general sentiment amongst critics and a fair share of citizens is that the current and previous regime has been using sanctions as a curtain to cover up their failures as government. It is the politics of the country that divides opinion about sanctions.
But what does it take to remove these sanction?
When Mnangagwa bounced back in 2017, he seemed like he had abandoned the oratory using the ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra and promised to seek re-engagement. He urged citizens not to focus on sanctions but instead focus on finding solutions.
As a country, we should put aside the sanctions rhetoric aside, not that it is not critical, but to find the root causes of our troubles.
Corruption is rife, and ZACC needs more than teeth to bite. There is excessive looting by those with access, and there is less respect for constitutionalism. Democracy and freedom of expression must be allowed to flourish amongst the citizens of Zimbabwe.
That is why it is not a coincidence that these are the bare minimum requirements for the removal of sanction by the ‘West”.
Sanctions have had an impact on the socio-economic sectors of Zimbabwe, but we as a country have a large part of the blame.
It takes two to tango, our efforts to reform practically, practice transparency, accountability and effect the rule of law will not go unnoticed. Without our willingness to change, these anti-sanctions events will be much ado about nothing.