Editorial Comment

Sanctions really must go, but…

ON Monday, Zimbabwe and the Southern Africa Development Community(Sadc) continued to press for lifting of sanctions imposed on Harare for close to two decades by the United States (US) and its western allies.

The embargoes, which Zimbabwe, Sadc and the African Union have declared illegal and unjustifiable, were imposed as a protest to alleged human rights abuses and dearth of rule of law, among other ills.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe contended that a bilateral dispute between it and the United Kingdom of the land reform programme of the 2000 had been wrongly internationalised by the US and the western world and were meant to effect a regime change against the ruling Zanu PF.

Zimbabwe denied the sanctions are targeted, and have no impact on the country’s economic malaise.

Sanctions by their nature are punitive and cannot be condoned.

According to the Zimbabwean government, the country has lost US$40 billion as a result of sanctions. It claims the embargoes had retarded the country’s social and economic development, leaving the majority of citizens wallowing in poverty.

It is common cause that between 2000 and 2010, Zimbabwe experienced unprecedented political violence, firstly during the emotive land reform programme and later after the emergence of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Hundreds of people died and thousands were injured and displaced during that period — one of the saddest chapters of Zimbabwe’s history since attaining independence from the illegal regime of Ian Smith.

All this happened under the iron-fist leadership of then president Robert Mugabe.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over power in November 2017, he promised a more democratic Zimbabwe, free of political intimidation and violence.

Besides the horrendous shooting of civilians on August 1, 2018 and during the January 2019 fuel protests, Mnangagwa has to a large extent not been as draconian as during Mugabe’s time.

The shootings were bad enough and should not have occurred. Corrective measures to address the shootings are still to be implemented — a serious dent on Mnangagwa’s rule.

Clearly, the sanctions against Zimbabwe have not helped citizens, but embolden the ruling Zanu PF to come up with measures to cling to power and blame its imperfectness in resolving economic challenges on the embargoes.

The Mnangagwa government must also continue to implement both political and economic reforms as committed to by the president. We do not need any funding to do that except political will.