Pillay and sanctions- did anyone listen?


For nearly a decade, the Zimbabwean government has called for the lifting of sanctions because they are hurting ordinary Zimbabweans and not only the so-called targetted people.

This has been brushed off as mere politicking by those affected, senior leaders of the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front. After all, it is argued, they have an appetite for everything Western.

But the appeal by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to have sanctions lifted because they are hurting ordinary Zimbabweans adds a new dimension.

It clearly shows that the Western argument that the sanctions are targetted at individuals is hollow.

Unfortunately, the West has convinced some people, especially those who sing for their supper every day, that the sanctions are not targetted at the country but at the designated individuals.

But Zimbabwe is not an individual. If the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank cannot extend loans to Zimbabwe, does this affect the designated individuals alone or the entire country?

A lot has been said about how the United States, the European Union and Britain are helping Zimbabwe through so-called humanitarian assistance.

It would have been noble if the aid was going through the government. But it is not. It is being channelled through non-governmental organisations some of which are more inefficient than the government and do not even account to anyone.

The United Nations Development Programme, for example, is not accountable to anyone and cannot even be audited by external auditors. Its reports are not available to the public.

Some civic organisations have already criticised Pillay for calling for the lifting of sanctions. The question is, who are these people representing when the three key players to the Global Political Agreement, which is supposed to be the ultimate guide to a solution to Zimbabwe’s problems, says sanctions must be lifted.

According to Pillay: “The continuation of sanctions is now opposed by all three parties that make the inclusive government, and I have yet to hear a single Zimbabwean inside the country say they definitely think that sanctions should continue.’’

The question is, will anyone listen? More importantly, what will Zimbabweans do if no one listens?

Why continue to pester people that are not interested in your welfare? Why can’t the key leaders in Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe sit down and say: “Guys, no one is listening to us. We have a country to build. Let’s forget our political differences and build our country.”

It is as simple as that. You do not have to agree on everything, but you must try to find out why you are not agreeing. They have already proved that they can do it judging by the progress since February 2009. Just imagine how much more progress would have been made if there had been no squabbling?

Perhaps it is time to go back to the liberation struggle ethos: No one can liberate us but ourselves.


Below is what the GPA says about sanctions:




4. Sanctions and Measures

4.1 Recognising and acknowledging that some sections of the international community have since 2000 imposed

various sanctions and measures against Zimbabwe, which have included targeted sanctions.

4.2 The Parties note the present economic and political isolation of Zimbabwe by the United Kingdom,

European Union, United States of America and other sections of the International Community over and around

issues of disputed elections, governance and differences over the land reform programme.

4.3 Noting and acknowledging the following sanctions and measures imposed on Zimbabwe:-

(a) enactment of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act by the United States of

America Congress which outlaws Zimbabwe’s right to access credit from International Financial

Institutions in which the United States Government is represented or has a stake;

(b) suspension of Zimbabwe’s voting and related rights, suspension of balance of payment support,

declaration of ineligibility to borrow Fund resources and suspension of technical assistance to

Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund;

(c) suspension of grants and infrastructural development support to Zimbabwe by The World Bank; and

(d) imposition of targeted travel bans against current Government and some business leaders.

4.4 Noting that this international isolation has over the years created a negative international perception of

Zimbabwe and thereby resulting in the further isolation of the country by the non-availing of lines of credit to

Zimbabwe by some sections of the international community.

4.5 Recognising the consequent contribution of this isolation to the further decline of the economy.

4.6 Desirous and committed to bringing to an end the fall in the standards of living of our people, the Parties

hereby agree:-

(a) to endorse the SADC resolution on sanctions concerning Zimbabwe;

(b) that all forms of measures and sanctions against Zimbabwe be lifted in order to facilitate a

sustainable solution to the challenges that are currently facing Zimbabwe; and

(c) commit themselves to working together in re-engaging the international community with a view to

bringing to an end the country’s international isolation.



Stories on sanctions written by The Insider:

Gideon Gono on the impact of sanctions on Zimbabwe

British peer questions if sanctions have not actually boosted Mugabe’s morale

Sanctions hurting but government to blame for problems

Zimbabwe gets positive coverage from an unlikely quarter


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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