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Who is a winner on Zimbabwe Sanctions?

03 Aug 2019 at 15:47hrs | Views
This week has just ended with a government official retired general Anselem Sanyatwa and his wife Chido added to the sanctions list. This make him to be the first government official to be put into the sanction list after the demise of Mugabe government in November 2017. According to the sanction package he is accused of playing a crucial role on August 1, 2018 violent crackdown in which at least 6 people lost their lives.

The violence started as a result of some delays on releasing elections results. According to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission there wasn't any delay because Electoral Act give them a mandate to release the results within a period of 5 days. People went into the street demanding elections results although the protest ended up being a gruesome horror in which the protesters had to burn some of the valuable properties at the ZANU-PF Harare province offices in the fourth streets.  The Army responded with full force after the police was said to be overpowered. According to USA sanctions were imposed on him because of ordering the army to respond to the protest.

Kiddia (2018) is of the view that even ‘targeted' sanctions have mixed results: they often do not produce policy change on the ground, and in Zimbabwe have had the knock-on effect of decreasing donor and investor willingness to engage. Ultimately, these sanctions end up punishing some of the most vulnerable citizens rather than perpetrators of human rights abuses. The sanctions that were just slapped on the government official will not make changes to the current status quo but rather making current government more aggressive if they want to. Sanctions may not necessarily push government to reform its public sector but rather to continue blaming the west for economic woes that are facing the country.

Of course, he was placed under the sanctions but he was retired as the general and promoted to work as the head of mission in Tanzania. The sanctions that were placed under him are not likely to affect him that much.

Does USA has another toolkit to deal with Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe's government has managed to hold on power with the canine teeth for decades despites the present of sanctions. According DePretis the question that needs to be asked is not whether sanctions are hurting a target country's bottom line, but whether economic penalties are tailored to a wholistic diplomatic strategy that assures the government being punished that it will be better off if it corrects its mistakes. The primary reasons for imposing sanctions to another state has always been, is and will remain to change its behaviour in the international arena. If the sanctions are not working then there is a need to come to the drawing table and negotiate a deal that will compel a state to change.   

The fact that sanctions are outdated as means to force the behaviour of the states must be identified by USA. The sanctions are harming more the private citizens and general population than the elite. The top officials are still enjoying their luxuries, expensive cars and high class life. When it comes to the general citizens it hit the most because sanctions in reality scares the investors, who may want to do business. Scaring foreign direct investment it means unemployment, poverty among others will continue to hit the country. This must saves as a reminder to USA that sanctions are just inflicting pain on Zimbabwe without results.

Sanctions as campaigning tool

In the past 2 decades ZANU-PF has been using sanctions as a way to wrestle power with main opposition party MDC. Opposition is blamed for lobbying sanctions as a way to land to power softly. Main opposition is regarded as a sell-out party, then to be a sell-out is equal to the enemy of the state in Zimbabwe.  MDC officials in the past 2 decades have been seen several times within Western foreign official's circles which even makes it harder for them to deny the allegation within the political discourse.

It is believed that ZANU-PF subscribed to the partocracism where the party is on the centre of everything. Partocratic premised on the values, ideologies and the background of the party. So to them sanctions is a mechanism that was placed in order to weaken them since it's a party emancipating and representing the will of people.

Some scholars adamantly argue that sanctions are not lifted because of the land reforms programme. According to Heather Chingono (2010) to the Zimbabwean government, the long overdue land expropriation exercise was an effort to more equitably distribute land between the historically disenfranchised blacks and the white minority who ruled Zimbabwe from 1890 - 1979 hence according to Mugabe's party manifesto "the land is the economy and the economy is the land". It is at this point, that, the Zimbabwean government fell out of favor of Western support on the pretext that they had allowed a perpetration of human rights abuses and disrespect for property ownership rights.

Zimbabwe sanctions have to be lifted so that those who are hiding behind it would be exposed. The removal of sanctions will grant analyst enough energy of scrutinising bad governance without any excuse. Zimbabwe is heavily bleeding it needs access to foreign funds. Sanctions may make the government more aggressive instead of cooperating.

Tolexy Hups is a student of International Relations. For feedback

Source - Tolexy Hups
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