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Zimbabwe sanctions are bitting

06 Apr 2011 at 05:26hrs | Views
I WOULD have confined my input in the on-going national debate over the debilitating effects of the economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States in 2001, and by the European Union the following year to the house of Senate.
It is on public record that I have moved a motion in the Senate calling on the inclusive Government to file a class action suit against those sanctions. I have however, felt it necessary to respond to the opinion article written by Senator Obert Gutu (MDC-T), and published by NewsDay on March 30 2011.
I felt moved to make this contribution because I feel the stance taken by Senator Gutu, if left unchallenged, is highly misleading to the nation, if not deceptive.
In short, Senator Gutu avers that the US and EU sanctions on Zimbabwe are of no effect, and have thus not impacted the national economy negatively.
I say this is just simply not true.
I make this response because Senator Gutu is no ordinary citizen. He is, above all else, an eminent lawyer. His opinion counts.
I however would have thought that, as a lawyer of prominence, Senator Gutu is well grounded in argumentation and logic; that he knows more than a thing or two about contra-positive arguments, and, disjunctive syllogism; that he would know that correlation is not causation.
The fact of the matter is that, put simply, Senator Gutu's argument that. "the economic meltdown" was solely a result of Zanu-PF misgovernance is fallacious, deliberately deceptive and rings hollow.
That politics is also a game of deception cannot be denied. But it is inexcusable when men of such high intellect can use their wit to detract from reality.
To be sure, first and foremost, any form of sanctions against a country, "targetted or soft" inherently constitute a lack of good-will on a country, labelling that state a pariah and it's government "rogue".
Before you look anywhere else, which serious investor would want to do business with, and in such a country?
The US Congress is not known to make as many useless decisions. When decisions are taken by Congress, serious consideration often goes into the matters deliberated upon.
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (2001) (Zidera), is one such matter.
That Congress would have considered such a measure fully knowing well that it would be of no economic consequence on Zimbabwe, is both unthinkable and downright illogical. Zidera says in no uncertain terms that the US, where it has voting power in multilateral lending financial institutions, must veto all loans, concessions or debt cancellation to Zimbabwe. This extends beyond the World Bank and IMF to include even the African Development Bank.
Zidera is about more than the travel restrictions. US businesses are expressly banned or discouraged from doing business with Zimbabwe where funds for certain key Zimbabwean institutions are currently blocked in the US. Put together these have a far- reaching and more deleterious effect on Zimbabwe than the public is made aware.
That this is so is because the dominant message that resonates with the powerful US media led by the rightwing Fox News with CNN, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and others on tow, is that Zidera is meant to punish individuals in the Zimbabwe Government, where the fall-out is all blamed on Zanu-PF "misgovernance", a classic case of blaming the victim.
This is not the first time Americans are being subjected to such deception.
It goes back in time: Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq to Haiti. The list goes on.
As for the EU sanctions, so-called restrictive measures, these are nothing short of hard measures by soft power.
It is not the other way round, Senator Gutu and others in the MDC.
To argue that EU measures are of no effect on the national economy is not a simple case of cognitive dissonance; it goes further.
We are now identifying with the aggressor. The EU measures restrict and limit our access to international credit lines. In case some do not know, London still is the financial hub of the world, not New York, Tokyo or Hong Kong.
What caused the US and EU to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe is not some benevolent concern for the poor people of Zimbabwe.
I am keenly aware of the entrenched MDC position, that this is so because Zanu-PF has not opened up political space in Zimbabwe.
Matters are seldom so clear-cut as to fall into one or two categories. In other words there is more at play than internal political dynamics. We need to ask the simple but yet searching question, and that is: what is the interest of the US and EU in their foreign policy matrix as far as Zimbabwe is concerned?
Where is international capital in all this and who owns it? What about property rights in Zimbabwe? Why is that a concern for Americans and Europeans?
There are two critical national questions that ought to feature in any meaningful debate about Zimbabwe, and that are, the land question and vast resources, both human and natural.
In discussing critical national issues, such as political and other freedoms, all very necessary and relevant to all of us, we need not ignore the other; yet to me, more poignant and important in rank and significance, issues to do with opening up economic space for us Zimbabweans.
In other words, when I talk of property rights, is this to do with title deeds to my company, Trinity Engineering or my house?
The last time I checked, no Zimbabwean had their rights to ownership of such property under threat or imminent danger.
It is where you talk of national assets, the land, minerals etc, that concerns arise. In other words it is a gross generalisation and misleading for the MDC or anyone to say there is a clear and present danger to property rights in Zimbabwe.
If you talk about land ownership, then it becomes another matter.
To me, it is ownership of such national assets such as Ziscosteel that comes to mind. I started Trinity Engineering Company in 1975 with my first major contract being Number Four Blast Furnace at Zisco.
My heart bleeds to learn that ownership of such a strategic national asset will now fall into the hands of foreigners. It does not matter to me that they are Indians. It matters to me that they are not Zimbabweans.
I am not in Mutumwa Mawere's corner, in his case over Shabani/Mashaba Mines, as I do not pretend to know the facts. But, it is my conviction that what he attempted to do, to have ownership of such an important national asset fall into the hands of a Zimbabwean, ought to have been replicated across board.
We cannot have wholesale disposal of national assets without due caution and consideration. Future generations may wake up to find they own nothing in a country they call their own. This is why Zimbabwe is only a late-comer to instituting indigenisation policies.
When others talk, it is like a Zimbabwean idea, not tried anywhere else and without internal precedent.
This is shockingly not true.
Go to Malaysia, India, Japan you name it. They have such laws governing ownership of national assets and resources.
The devil, as always, is in the details. It is that which we ought to interrogate when it comes to policy initiatives, not whether we should decide how land ought to be re-distributed, that this must be left to market forces to decide. Where has it ever happened that all land in a country is left to free-hold title? Not even the US or Britain!
To extricate itself from the Great Depression of the 1930s, the US embarked on what was called the Great Deal programme, to develop infrastructure and other services to resuscitate the economy championed by the likes of Tipper Gore, Al Gore's father.
When they needed to build a major highway, it did not matter that it would take part of the land you call your own personal farm to which you held title deeds. You had to make way for the more pressing national need for the land.
Way back in history, in Britain, one Oliver Cromwell repossessed all the land that belonged to the monasteries and placed it under the ownership of the crown. To this day, land in Britain belongs to the crown.
We would be grossly fooling ourselves to believe that the world now works differently, that the conditions that made it necessary for Europe to embark on the colonial project, have all but dissipated with the coming of Independence.
Entrenched interests remain in our economic resources. We need to wake up and smell the coffee, as they say.
Some of us need sanctions to get out of the way so we can do best for this country, growth of local entrepreneurship, local capital, so that our businesses, like those of the Asians, can grow international giants.
Given the opportunity, some of us can! Many in businesses, and I need access to international credit lines Senator Gutu, so we can grow companies to complete internationally and to generate local jobs.
The Mittal brothers of India, you may know Senator, now dominate the world steel markets, and industries. Before the sanctions rendered our products and prices uncompetitive, we at Trinity Engineering were now exporting trailers as far afield as Kenya.
We were almost there to become a Sadc and Comesa brand. This is why I want sanctions to go. They are real. They are biting. This is why, in the GPA, all parties agreed, that is MDC included, that sanctions are not desirable for the good of the country.
Only countries under sanctions, such as Yugoslavia, have experienced such unprecedented levels of inflation.
To deny that sanctions bite, is to underrate the potential of the US and EU to cause mayhem on the small nation's economy, and as is the intention, to effect regime-change, directly or by proxy.
-------------Aguy Georgias is a Zanu-PF senator  who moved a motion in Parliament for the inclusive government to institute a class action against the European Union (EU) for the targeted sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and his inner cabal.

Source - Aguy C Georgias
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