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Countries ponder laws against calling for sanctions

by Staff reporter
27 Oct 2019 at 09:53hrs | Views
THE illegal sanctions imposed on the country by some Western countries from the turn of the new millennium have in no doubt impacted negatively on the economy and the livehoods of people, with estimates saying about US$42 billion in revenue has been lost due to sanctions.

While the West had its own gripe with the Government on how the Land Reform Exercise was executed, what has been alarming has been the cheers for the sanctions to be implemented and elongated ever since by opposition politicians.

The late MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was among the first people to call for sanctions to be imposed on the country, as his party hoped once sanctions are imposed the deteriorating economic situation would force the masses to revolt against the Government. The leadership of the opposition political party has continued on that trajectory, with some key figures making trips abroad to speak ill of the country.

Nonetheless, the Government, led by President Mnangagwa has been on a charm offensive to mend bridges with erstwhile friends through re-engagements, engagements with new partners and also to re-affirm friendships with the global community, through a deliberate foreign policy meant to usher the country back into the community of all nations across the globe.

While the Government seeks to take the country forward, there are some working against the national interest, calling for sanctions to stay. This is despite a major victory for the country when the whole Sadc region stood in solidarity with Zimbabwe on Friday holding an Anti-Sanctions Day across all member countries.

In view of citizens crossing the line, there are growing calls for countries to craft laws that criminalise citizens from speaking on behalf of Governments or calling for sanctions to be imposed on their own countries. Reports from the United Kingdom last week said Tory MPs have drawn up a new law that would see any British citizen who undermines Government negotiations abroad face jail. The Mail on Sunday reported that the "backbench push comes in the wake of angry claims by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's No 10 officials that anti-Brexit members of Parliament had worked with EU countries to wreck the UK's exit negotiations

"Now, MPs from the European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers want to make it a crime for British citizens to undermine official Government negotiations by launching shadow talks or inviting foreign help in drafting domestic legislation. Last month, Downing Street launched an investigation into alleged links between foreign governments and the MPs behind the amendment which last night forced the Government to attempt to seek another Brexit extension."

Brexit-backing Ms Jenkyns was quoted as saying: "The events of the last few months confirm that the UK must join its international allies and institute laws to ban such actions that jeopardise British statecraft." The group will use a little-known Commons device called a Presentation Bill, a type of private member's bill, in an attempt to kick-start the new law.

The United States also has a law that prohibits such actions called the Logan Act, which was enacted on 30 January 1799. Although reports say only two people have been charged under the law with no conviction, it nonetheless criminalises negotiations by unauthorised persons with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States.

"The intent behind the Act is to prevent unauthorised negotiations from undermining the government's position. The Act was passed following George Logan's unauthorised negotiations with France  in 1798, and was signed into law by President John Adams  on 30 January 1799. The Act was amended in 1994, changing the penalty for violation from "fined $5,000" to "fined under this title"; this appears to be the only amendment to the Act. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony."

There have been calls locally for the Government to consider such legislation, so as to protect the integrity of the country and the national interest. Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was quoted last week by an online publication as saying if such a legislation was proposed, Government will look into it.

"I believe that we have to start working at a law that will ensure that those people who are not patriotic who brought this suffering to others are brought to book and we craft a law along the lines of the Logan Act."

 Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo is on record as saying Zimbabwe continues to deal with the illegal sanctions imposed by some Western countries. He said the heavy cost to the economy has necessitated Zimbabwe's policy thrust of re-engagement to ensure the country returns to the community of nations.

"It is estimated, for those who have done the studies, that Zimbabwe has lost an estimated US$42 billion in revenue because of the sanctions.

The country lost multi-lateral donor support which is estimated at about US$4,5 billion annually since 2001 and US$12 billion in the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank loans which could have developed infrastructure in this country and commercial loans estimated at US$18 billion which could have gone to the private sector and into other areas and as a result of that, a reduction of GDP of over US$21 billion. Now that's a picture of what has been the impact of the sanctions in the past two decades."

Sanctions are an act of war, and those calling for sanctions to be imposed on their own countries are simply advocating for the suffering of their own kith and kin.

Source - sundaynews