We need to talk about sanctions

By IAfrica
In Zimbabwe
Aug 3rd, 2014
Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka Correspondent

The MDC wants to have dialogue about building our country? By all means. But first, we need to talk about the sanctions.

THE MDC, it seems, wants to talk! I recently participated in a discussion about the first anniversary of the resounding Zanu-PF victory in the last elections.
During the debate, an MDC official was at pains to try and demonstrate how he is this very important person who gets briefings from Government so that he can go and lobby the European Union in Brussels on behalf of the Government.

The MDC, it turns out, according to our important person, wants every person that benefited from the land liberation that started in 1999 to get title deeds to the land that they have,  and will instruct a privatised Agribank to give loans to all resettled farmers and revive the economy overnight, he claimed.

Apparently, according to our man in Brussels (as he painted himself), the MDC is opposed to sanctions, and has been at pains to get them removed.
He completely disavowed his leader’s calls for sanctions. But this was not strange. The MDC goes around crying foul and yet when you get to substance, apart from their “we were rigged” mantra, they have none.

That is why their stories change. If you say that industry is suffering because of sanctions, they claim that sanctions are not hurting the economy. If you point to tangible results, like the fact that Zimbabwe beef is not being sold in the EU like was the case under the Lome Convention because of sanctions, they claim that they are opposed to sanctions anyway

If you say in that case tell your handlers that you want sanctions removed, they say, not until we have a free and fair election, as if we have not already had one.
The EU ambassador is vilified by MDC supporters for suggesting that sanctions have outlived their purpose, and their motley band of supporters in London propose a demonstration in favour of said sanctions, interspersed with petulant chants of “munodei kuno kuvarungu vedu” directed at Zanu-PF members in the UK.

The truth is that you cannot trust this party to have an honest discussion about sanctions because they know that these measures are having their desired effect: hurting Zimbabwe so that people eventually abandon Zanu-PF. You need to hate your country very much to want to see it suffer so that you get a chance to rule. And it looks like the MDC does.

Yet despite these sanctions, Zanu-PF remains in situ and working with what is there. For an analysis of the first year of Government after the GNU, any sane analysis shows that things are not as they are painted by the MDC. The Bible tells us that the measure with which to identify a true prophet is to gauge them by what they say: if they predict something and it comes to pass, then they are true prophets.

The truth is that after one year, we know that those who went around chanting “tongai tione” and were expecting that the economy would collapse have been shown to be false prophets. We were told in December 2013 to brace ourselves for an early election, because the country was going to implode under Zanu-PF mismanagement, but that has not happened.

We were told about falling agricultural production: yet the recent bumper harvest, thanks to the Presidential Input Scheme, shows that to have been false too. New tobacco farmers flooded the auction floors with a top grade product, and we even saw countries like Belgium coming back to the floors in force to buy our superior product, despite claims from the MDC beforehand that this was not going to happen.

Realising that their predictions are being confounded by the resilience of the Zimbabwe people, the MDC now seeks to muddy the waters about sanctions. They have two talking points: the  inane claim about that they are in fact advocating for the removal of sanctions, and the other claim that sanctions do not hurt anyone except those people affected by travel bans.

Listening to the MDC, you would think that the only sanctions that have been imposed by the West involve visa restrictions on certain people. It is precisely because of these dishonest claims that we need to talk about sanctions.

Unlike those in the MDC, we do not have short memories. Nor are we as blinkered. Hanzi chinokanganwa idemo. Apparently that should now be amended to add, at the end, “Hanzi chinokanganwa idemo neMDC”.

Our economic woes started when the IMF, the World Bank and other international financial institutions withdrew balance of payments support because our President had refused to reduce the education and health budgets. These international financial institutions had prescribed a punishing ESAP on the country and, just like they did in every country where SAPs were implemented, they insisted that these should be followed to the minutiae, without deviation, even when it did not fit the local conditions. Any attempt to cushion the harm caused by ESAP was regarded as “lack of political will”, which in IMF and World Bank speak means “not willing to shove it down the throats of their own people whether they like it or not”.

What made our situation worse was that this came at a time when our people, led by the legendary Svosve clan, decided that enough was enough and went from their impoverished villages to retake their land. The liberation of our land did not please the British, many of whose nationals owned farms that happened to be situated on our lands.

It was the British that then led the chorus of hypocrisy, condemning us by appearing to take the high road and clothing their criticism under the guise of “democracy” and the “rule of law”, despite the fact that in the 90 years that they ruled our country, raping and reaping its resources, they did not do this “democracy” at all.

So a sanctions regime was initiated, with the British at the forefront, the EU and the USA behind. And no, it was not a travel ban. It was a condemnation of our country into a pariah state.

It was a message that this is not a place you want to do business with. It was a deliberate, calculated package of economic emasculation with one aim and one aim alone: regime change, with the intention being to replace a strong, un-bribable and resolute leader with a puppet, one that would do their bidding.

Suddenly our country was reduced to a cash economy. If we needed to import anything, we had to pay cash. No foreign direct investment also means that no major infrastructural projects.

Those sanctions continue to bite even now. Access to capital is still restricted. The USA continues to hunt down and stop all payments due to Zimbabwe from our exports through ZTDERA, forcing those that will deal with us as a country to use innovative and thus riskier routes, which ultimately result in a loss to our fiscus.

It is an undeniable truth worth repeating that no country can survive without balance of payments support. The USA, so-called greatest economy on earth, owes some us$16 trillion, more than 10 percent of that to China. These are basic facts.

Yet the MDC president allows himself to be used, going around preaching against our land reclamation and the indigenisation process on behalf of the British, without realising that they have a stake in the outcome bigger than he can comprehend. Imagine this scenario: without sanctions, our land liberation and indigenisation initiatives will succeed, and create wealth for our people.

If that was allowed to happen, what is to stop the black people in South Africa, or the native Australians and native New Zealanders from rising up and taking back what was stolen? And who stands to lose the most if that happened, if not Britain and the West, whose interests control these economies?

Of course, the MDC leader does not realise this, but we can see it for what it is. After all, this is the same Morgan Tsvangirai that they were secretly briefing each other about as “lacking in substance” at their embassy get-togethers in Harare since 1999.

These are obvious facts, but one invariably finds that one has to climb down a few notches in order to have a discussion with the MDC on these points. The fact that they continue to cry about “corruption and not sanctions” when they are the party led by a man that has never won an election, never even built himself a house, but survives on the corrupt use of party resources shows the degree of hubris.

He lived in a ZCTU-funded house before the MDC gig came along. Then the MDC bought him a house in Strathaven. Then the Government loaned him money to have the house in Highlands. He still went back to the MDC for that US$300 000 settlement to Locardia.  Nikuv renovated his home in Buhera, installed an irrigation system and put electricity there. And by the way, the power lines taking this electricity to his home in Buhera pass over a school, without connecting that school, because he, unlike President Mugabe, is not a fan of education. Pity.

Corruption is being tackled, which was one of Zanu-PF’s election promises. The Herald has highlighted corruption in the public sector, with no sacred cows being spared, and ministers are being called to testify in courts. That is what a functional Government does, not the fiction that is spread by the MDC.

We ran a clean election in 2013, one that Zanu-PF won resoundingly. As a nation, we should be very proud. As the party that won, Zanu-PF should feel vindicated. Instead of accepting the result, thus removing the claimed basis for sanctions,  the MDC went on a campaign of spreading science fiction claims about mutating ballots, with the usual rubbish about an electronic voters roll (far be it from our friends at the MDC to read through papers, they want discs!) thrown in.

Yet now, the MDC has the temerity to ask of Zanu-PF, after one year in power, what have you done! Well, quite a lot actually. The Zanu-PF Government has managed to keep the economy going despite the pressure from their regime change sponsors for one.

The Zanu-PF Government has managed to help people achieve a bumper harvest despite predictions of woe from MDC circles. The Zanu-PF Government has managed to empower more people through access to means of productions, to mines, to more land and business opportunities thanks to Zim-Asset.

The Zanu-PF Government has managed to continue to fund higher education, with record numbers of students accessing tertiary education and on the path to full participation in the future of their country, thanks to improved conditions of service for teachers, the very same people that the MDC finance minister once told to “eat what they hunt”.

Yes, industry should be doing better, but sanctions and restrictions on accessing capital markets have slowed the plans in this sector.  Instead of campaigning for an end to sanctions, the MDC president goes to Europe to call on the West to keep the sanctions on as a “prod” to “guarantee credible elections”. Dude, we already had credible elections, and you lost!

The MDC goes around maligning our indigenisation programme, preferring instead the window dressing variety that Lonrho, Anglo-American and Delta practised in the 1980s by putting forward a few black faces as CEOs despite the fact that their salary and influence was still below that of the whites under them.

We are not going back to that time, sanctions or no sanctions. Our country is on a path to prosperity, slowed down by the MDC-supported sanctions, but never to be defeated.

The MDC wants to have dialogue about building our country? By all means. But first, we need to talk about the sanctions.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a former president, UZ Students Union, and is a Zanu-PF UK member.

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