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We have a moral duty to denounce sanctions

27 Oct 2019 at 09:49hrs | Views
Zimbabweans in all their different shades and from various social and political backgrounds on Friday 25 October, expressed their exasperation on the continued existence of illegal sanctions by the European Union and the United States of America.

While the majority of Zimbabweans turned in their numbers to express their disgust on the continued existence of the sanctions, a few others decided to pour cold water and even vitriol on the campaign, which was initiated by SADC member states following their August meeting in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

In essence, those who opposed the march were also opposed to SADC's initiative born out of the realisation that despite the political changes that have taken place in Zimbabwe, the EU and the US have not responded in a manner that acknowledges the attendant reforms that have been implemented and continue being implemented by the New Dispensation.

Any rationale analysis would come out to the same conclusion that the continued existence of sanctions has nothing to do with human rights violations, but more to do with regime change following Zimbabwe's decision to embark on the land reform programme meant to correct historical injustices during the previous dispensation.

While there is some bit of movement in the EU bloc towards Zimbabwe in terms of reviewing and ultimately removing the sanctions, the US has remained obstinate, a position which vindicates the perception that the continued existence of the economic embargo has nothing to do with human rights but regime change.

Former editor of The Herald, Joram Nyathi could not have put it any better when he posted on his Facebook page that: "The American Congress is the strongest political organ. It knows no superpower and can't be controlled by anyone outside it once it passes a law . . . It's easier to request America to kill your people than to get it to stop."

Nyathi's contention was that even some close friends such as Britain cannot tell US Congress what to do. And he was right on the money when he said the  mantra about political reform without reversal of land reform is nonsense.

Everyone is aware that the march is not likely to result in the immediate removal of sanctions, but according to Nyathi, the demonstration is meant to exert moral pressure on those who imposed the sanctions.

Nyathi was not done yet. He further argued that "the biggest shame in our case is that while the educated led the cause of anti-colonial struggles in the past, today the educated have become the most regressive force in Zimbabwe's struggle for economic sovereignty, all because of money. Imali yimpande vesono."

I entirely concur with Nyathi's assertion, particularly the fact that all Zimbabweans have a moral duty to continue exerting pressure for it is probably the greatest moral weapon we have at our disposal.

But, a little historical context is necessary for us to appreciate how America's pervasive foreign policy particularly on countries that it deems to be at odds with its economic interests.

In 1951, America imposed sanctions on Guatemala after their 25th president and revolutionary Juan Jacobo Arbenz Guzman embarked on a land reform exercise.

In 1951, the indigenous people of Guatemala took a brave stand and took their land, which had been shared among a few white families and USA and Anglo American Conglomerates. This move by the Guatemalans did not go down well with the Americans and their allies and hatched a propaganda blitz demonising President Juan Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.

This was followed by the imposition of economic sanctions and after 10 long years of sanctions and suffering the Guatemalan army ousted their president under the instigation of USA and their conglomerates.

The Guatemalan army thought that only their president was the problem and after eliminating him they believed that sanctions would be removed, but USA told them that the embargo could not be removed since, they, the army was part and parcel of the old regime (the same old Taxi with a new driver).

They were then told to hold so called free and fair elections in which they could contest with an opposition party, which was being sponsored by the                                                                                    USA. This opposition party was recruited from the indigenous people, but directed by the CIA under Dulles and George Bush senior. The elections came and the opposition won them, but still sanctions were not removed. The reason given by USA was that this party was a Red Indian party and it was, they, the indigenous people, who had robbed the whites and the USA conglomerates of their land.

So, what they needed to do was to reverse the land ownership rights to what they were on 31 December, 1950. This meant the return of land to the whites, before the sanctions could be removed. They agreed to do that, but still sanctions were not removed.

The next condition given was that the USA would give the money to the white farm owners, so that they could revive their farms which had been vandalised by the Red Indians, but this money was going to be paid back by the Red Indian government through taxation of their indigenous people. They also agreed to that, but still sanctions were not removed.

The last but most brutal and final condition was that the Guatemalan government had to cut the reserves where their Indigenous people were living in congestion by 75 percent and give that land to the whites as compensation because the whites needed to cover up for the 10 years' loss of production which had been caused by the land reform. Also, all the Communities whose land had been included in this 75 percent had to  automatically become compulsory farm labourers of the new white owners.

This was agreed upon and up to today the indigenous people are living on 25 percent of their land while a few white families and United Fruit Company and other European Conglomerates occupy 75 percent of the land. Guatemala today is the biggest producer of the so-called Euro Banana. The standard banana, which is shipped to Europe at the cheapest price. The money from these products goes to USA and Europe leaving the Guatemalan indigenous people being one of the poorest communities on the planet.

Our situation in Zimbabwe is not so different from the one Guatemala experienced. The USA and its allies made it clear that no sanctions will be removed as long as the land ownership rights in this country have not been (reversed) and returned to the minority white Rhodies.

What colleagues who oppose the removal of sanctions miss is that sanctions are not likely to be removed even if the opposition gets into power as long as they do not reverse the land reform programme.

It is thus, imperative as Zimbabweans to remain united in our steadfast opposition of sanctions. We do not want to be another Guatemala where citizens have literally become squatters in the land of their  birth.

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