Don’t ease or loosen those sanctions!

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
16 February 2012

Sometimes I doubt the sincerity of those who appear to be in the forefront of helping us normalise the situation in Zimbabwe.
With no African country leading the crusade to stop the madness in our country, resistance to Robert Mugabe and his murderous followers has always been spearheaded by those outside Africa, notably the European Union, the United States and Australia.
Political tensions are, again, on the rise in Zimbabwe where Mugabe continues his mad rampage, killing opposition supporters and beating up innocent people in the countryside.
Since those sanctions were imposed, nothing has changed in Zimbabwe and yet the European Union comes forward to say that although it is maintaining travel and financial sanctions on Mugabe and hardliners in his ZANU-PF party, it is removing 51 members of Mugabe’s party from the sanctions list.
Only this week did we see the murder of two MDC members at the hands of ZANU-PF, with one of them having his hands chopped off so he would never show his party’s open-palm symbol again, before being murdered.
Many suspected opposition sympathisers remain in jail on frivolous charges, violence is on the rise, people cannot assemble or demonstrate, the media is still in chains and ZANU-PF’s vigilante group, Chipangano, has increasingly become more powerful than the police who are, themselves, ZANU-PF proxies.
Maintaining an arms embargo and freezing development assistance, the EU has removed 20 ZANU-PF-related entities from the sanctions list, “but 112 individuals, including Mr. Mugabe and 11 entities, will remain under sanctions”.
The EU also said that travel bans will be suspended for the foreign and justice ministers “so they can take part in talks with the European Union”.
This is utter nonsense.
The sanctions have become a charade and the EU is slowly becoming complicit in the murder and abuse of Zimbabweans. They should not have started this in the first place.
What has happened in Zimbabwe to warrant this easing of sanctions and removal of even one ZANU-PF entity from the list? Instead of encouraging the doing of good, it will give hope to the wrongdoers that, if they can only hold on a little while longer, they will triumph.
The EU says it is removing Chinamasa from the list so that he can talk to the EU.
Talk to the EU about what? The number of graves being dug every day?
The whole lot is guilty as sin and must remain in political and economic quarantine until Zimbabwe’s political situation is given a clean bill of health by the people of Zimbabwe, not by the European Union.
But could the EU’s position be steadily softening because of a small area in Zimbabwe called Chiadzwa? Could this have anything to do with Zimbabwe diamonds and wanting to get a foot in the door before the Chinese dominate the trade?
The European mentality never changes, does it. This gradual removal of sanctions is the beginning of normalising relations with Mugabe.
In all this, the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe have no say. We should just say ‘thank you’ to the EU and shut up.
Like hell we will.
The EU must watch out. Our historical relationship in which Europe dominated and abused us was slowly on the mend and now they want to sneak back into their old ways as if we are asleep.
The EU must put back on the sanctions list all the 51 ZANU-PF members along with the so-called ZANU-PF entities.
This is not a laughing matter and the EU better be careful not to be seen as leading the revival of Mugabe and his ZANU-PF at a time they are upping the murder and abuse of Zimbabweans.
The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa promotes the rule of law, democracy, human rights, economic development, among others.
They have just labelled the EU’s decision to ease sanctions “premature”.
They are being diplomatic; this is utter madness and betrayal.
Meanwhile, the International Crisis Group, in a recent paper, called for “a revision of the sanctions regimen to lay the groundwork for creative solutions to the crisis”.
Oh, God, this is horse manure!
Creative solutions? What the hell is that? They want to be creative as they attempt to stop the murder of innocent Zimbabweans. But then, organisations such as the ICG have to justify their existence so that donor money can flow in; they seem willing to overlook a murder here and two murders there to get it.
They want to stop international crises through creativity.
Pardon me, Lord!
This is not the time for experiments and academic papers. This is a time to stop the madness and if these organisations have no contributions to make in efforts to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, they could do us a big favour by simply shutting up because we do not need that patronising attitude and the silly statements they churn out every time do more harm than good.
The sanctions were imposed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and some European countries.
It is important here to note that, contrary to sympathy provoking propaganda from ZANU-PF’s Rugare Gumbo, the targeted sanctions were not imposed on the country of Zimbabwe but on selected individuals of Mugabe’s government who were causing a lot of misery to the people of Zimbabwe at the same time they were ruling economic ruin on the nation.
The sanctions, in the form of travel, banking and business bans, targeted only Mugabe and about 200 of his party leaders and associates for several reasons, chief among which were the ransacking of the economy, the abuse of human rights, the lack of the rule of law, stolen elections, intolerance and state sponsored violence on members of the opposition and those who were suspected to be sympathetic to the opposition.
None of these issues have changed.
The sanctions were directed at those in power and their prominent supporters who were abusing the nation and the people.
Needless to say, government critics and those in the opposition ranks welcomed the sanctions on Mugabe and his gang.
The sanctions tried to curtail the ridiculous, expensive and useless foreign trips by Mugabe, his wife and their inner circle who were abusing the people and the economy, especially whatever little money trickled into national coffers.
Today, with an imposed and hardly functional “unity government” in place for three years, the EU countries are ready to loosen the sanctions.
Yet we are still faced with the same problems perpetrated by the same people.
Do the Americans and the Europeans believe that they know what is best for us Zimbabweans?
Do they see something we don’t see?
We have no currency; the US Dollar, the South African Rand and the Botswana Pula are our bastard currencies.
There are some who cheered when the sanctions were imposed; today we cannot cheer because the reasons those sanctions were imposed are still there.
No, this is not the right time to remove or loosen the sanctions.
People are still being beaten up, threatened and killed.
People are being prevented from creating their own constitution.
There are no human rights.
There is no rule of law.
There are no property rights.
The police and the army are serving a political party not the nation.
The war veterans have upped their campaign of violence.
Mugabe has not honoured the Unity Agreement.
Sanctions must stay and the only change to be made on them is to tighten them.
The heart of the matter is that this is just not the time to remove or loosen the targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle, as events currently unfolding in the country show.
Loosening the sanctions will retard any progress so far made and will invigorate the wrongdoers.
Besides, the battle has not yet been won so it is premature for these countries to relax the sanctions.
The targets have not been accomplished; the battle is still raging; if they relax those sanctions, the EU and the US will be intervening on Mugabe’s side, not of the people.
Removing sanctions at this stage is sending wrong signals to Mugabe at a very critical phase in the attempt to resuscitate our nation.
All along, I have always believed that nations, especially the United States, were looking at the overall welfare of not only their people but the safety and welfare of the world at large.
I thought the US, Europe and other so-called “first world countries” were concerned about the abuse of Zimbabweans.
I always believed that countries, like America and Europe, that have the means to yell the loudest against the abuse of our Zimbabwean citizens, did so because of genuine conviction, not because of camouflaged greed.
If those sanctions are loosened or removed, Europe and the west will be throwing us back to square one.
It is called betrayal.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande saying that sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle must stay because Mugabe has not changed and removing the sanctions will ensure that he never changes…yet change must come.
This is not the time to loosen sanctions on Mugabe. It is time to tighten them.
And that, my compatriots, is the way it is today, Thursday, February 16, 2012.

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