Sanctions: A double-edged sword

FOLLOWING Zimbabwe’s often chaotic land reform programme in 2000, ostensibly to address skewed colonial landownership patterns, the country has not quite enjoyed socioeconomic stability ever since.

Since then Zimbabwe has witnessed massive gross human rights abuses coupled with disputed polls. The opposition has known no peace leading to the imposition of the so called targeted sanctions by the West.

In our view, sanctions from whichever angle represent a double-edged sword, probably meant to cause temporary pain on  the Government of Zimbabwe for purposes of eliciting desirable change in as far as human rights are concerned.

The targeted sanctions – whatever one likes to call them – in place since 2001 appear to have targeted the wrong people (the poor), with the elite unfortunately not suffering any economic inconvenience at all.

With all due respect to the US and EU – countries known to be adherents to constitutionalism – we really do not understand how our friends think sanctions can bring about democracy in the country.

Our view is that democracy and the rule of law can come to Zimbabwe through the sanctions path if the North (the US and EU) can succeed in pushing for reforms through reengagement because in Zanu PF’s view sanctions only help setting the citizens of Zimbabwe up against their government.

This would, of course, only happen after the people have sufficiently suffered to a point where they will have no other choice than to engage the State apparatus in a bloody revolution for their liberation.

If that is the US and EU’s intention, then we are afraid to say that route may take quite some time to come to fruition.

The North also appear to be realistic in their demand for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

We are sure that the intention will be served well by rehabilitating Zanu PF and not appearing to favour one political party in the country – that can only worsen matters.

Despite decades of isolation there does not seem to be any indication at the moment that Zanu PF will recoil at any economic pressure at the moment, leaving only the poor to suffer the ensuing consequences.

To us, it is clear that the ruling Zanu PF party will – as long as the sanctions are in place – remain impervious to any responsibility for socioeconomic decadence, all the time blaming the decaying economy on the West’s “ruinous” sanctions – whether targeted or not.

Sanctions on a country – any country for that matter – will never present a win-win scenario at all!