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Sanctions a convenient scapegoat for Zimbabwe’s political elite

01 Nov 2018 at 17:48hrs | Views
One of the issues that has dominated the Zimbabwe political landscape for a while is the matter of sanctions, with campaigners for their removal saying they are holding back Zimbabwe, but I argue this is nothing but a red herring from people who really do not want to confront the biggest problem that the country is facing.

Sanctions are inherently bad and must be condemned. But there is a context and calling for the removal of sanctions without addressing why they were put in place in the first place is akin to treating symptoms, a disingenuous exercise.

The worst sanctions that Zimbabwe faces are inflicted by the government s inaction when it comes to fully implementing the constitution
Without going into semantics or the debate on whether we really have sanctions the sanctions that have the biggest effect on Zimbabwe are those that were slapped by the US, commonly known as ZIDERA.

The US has said the best way for Zimbabwe to get rid of sanctions is for the African country to implement its constitution. Quite simple and straight to the point, right? But it seems nobody wants to engage with that part of the deal and instead are more preoccupied with the unconditional removal of sanctions.

The easy way in all this would be to say look America, we have implemented our constitution, now remove your sanctions.

But no, we just want sanctions to be removed and to hell with everything else, including the constitution, which is supposed to be the very foundation on which the country is built on.

If those that were calling for the removal of sanctions were genuine, then they would also show what the government has done to implement the constitution and what timelines there are for ironing out outstanding issues.

But the debate is one-dimensional and clearly unhelpful.

Let s have a quick look at ZIDERA for instance. The first dictate of ZIDERA, which we can say is the first step towards removing sanctions, says the government should establish, without cost in both paper and digital formats a biometric voter registration that is endorsed by all registered political parties.

Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this demand and why can t our government do this.

The voters  roll was a contentious issue during the 2018 elections because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chose opacity rather than transparency and with that further prolonged the sanctions on Zimbabwe.

ZIDERA also calls for the army to not to participate in campaigning for any candidate, but we have the exact opposite of that happening in Zimbabwe and this is an anathema for democracy.

The US also said candidates should be allowed free and full access to state media, which must afford equal time and coverage to all registered parties, in an impartial manner. This is in our constitution that we signed up to five years ago, but it is inconvenient to mention and we have found a convenient scapegoat in sanctions.

Other demands are quite straightforward, but Zimbabwe is deaf to them. For example that civil society organisations be free to carry out voter education exercises, that Zimbabwe should be open about diamond revenues since 2000 and to acknowledge and deal with past human rights abuses such as Operation Murambatsvina, the violence of 2008, and Gukurahundi.

America also wants Zimbabwe to hold an immediate inquiry into the disappearance of prominent human rights activists such as Patrick Nabanyama, Itai Dzamara, and Paul Chizuze.

Can anyone tell me what is wrong with these demands? I hear some saying we are a sovereign nation and America cannot dictate to us what to do, and so is America, a sovereign nation which can choose who to deal with and who not to conduct business with.

These are legitimate demands, which are enshrined in our constitution, but surprisingly those that want sanctions removed are mum about such violations of our constitution.

If Zimbabwe is serious about the removal of sanctions, then it knows what it has to do, instead of hollow pronouncements that in the end count for nothing.

The worst form of sanctions that Zimbabwe suffers from is the failure by its own government to uphold the rule of law and implement the constitution.

As any person would know, any strategist would say let s deal with what is in our control first and then take on external factors next. Instead, we are more preoccupied with external issues instead of putting our house in order.

Source - Nqaba Matshazi
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