I am personally sceptical of the effectiveness of sanctions on regime change. I believe that sanctions can only effectively achieve their political objective if they are properly coordinated multilaterally, and are the only justified means of effecting radical change of policy. If applied alone in the absence of many other factors, as happened elsewhere, sanctions will be doomed to fail. In most cases sanctions only serve to empower dictators by giving them new draconian powers (laws) to suppress their subjects even further. Sanctions are widely used by pathological dictatorial regimes as an alibi for increased repression against their own people. Most unfortunately, the majority innocent civilian population in Zimbabwe today is silently suffering dearly as a result of the dreadful sanctions regime.
By Crisford Chogugudza (October 25, 2007)
Zimbabweans continue to be brainwashed by Mugabe and his Zanu PF’s ranting and raving about so called ‘illegal international sanctions’ being the major cause of economic collapse in the country. Whilst, it is widely acknowledged that sanctions have definitely played a part and continue to play a crucial part in the collapse of the economy in Zimbabwe, the whole truth must be told as to why these sanctions are there in the first place. Many in Zimbabwe today think that talk about sanctions is mere politicking and an alibi by the beleaguered Zanu PF government for trying to absolve themselves from the obvious blame in respect of decades of economic mismanagement, corruption and human rights violations.
Blaming MDC or the white farmers for instigating sanctions is not only ludicrous but preposterous by all standards of reason. The West imposed ‘targeted sanctions’ against the Zanu PF political aristocracy due to alleged human rights abuses, absence of the rule of law and lack of democracy among other things. The implementation of the controversial and chaotic land reform programme beginning 2000, also added a new dimension to the sanctions regime. It does not take a bishop’s mind to understand how chaotic and ineffective the entire ‘land reform process’ has turned out to be. To date thousands of hectares of land seized and nicodimously allocated to cronies and ruling party supporters’ lye idle, reportedly being savagely misused as retreats for weekend and holiday barbeque parties. This wasted land could have been productively utilised had government left productive white commercial farmers there in consistency with the one man one farm policy. Paradoxically, a number of senior Zanu PF chefs who invaded the white farms in the first instance, are multiple farm owners themselves and there is glaring evidence to this effect.
Whilst in principle, l believe that there was a genuine case to redistribute land to the landless blacks whose livelihood depend largely on subsistence agriculture, l am convinced the Zanu PF modus operandi was grotesquely flawed. It was chaotic and short sighted and morally reprehensible in its application. The Japanese have a popular proverb which says ‘a plan without vision is a nightmare’, this squarely applies to the Zanu PF land reform programme. Cognisant of this mess, the greatest dilemma awaiting any future government in Zimbabwe is to attempt to redress this economic blunder of monstrous proportions. Regrettably, any attempts to return the majority of the land to the white farmers in future would be resisted. However, it is only logical that significant compromises would have to be made in this regard.
A lot of the white farmers lost not only their land but their entire livelihood and status as well, and a lot of them are now living in desperate times. Their former workers are even more desperate as they did not have anywhere to go having originally come from neighbouring Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. It appears the Zanu PF government has abandoned them completely and their plight continues to invoke negative sentiments from sympathisers world over. A few productive black commercial farmers not sympathetic to Zanu PF also lost their land in politically motivated invasions. To make matters worse, Zanu PF bureaucrats, lawmakers, securocrats and ordinary party loyalists allegedly continue to invade land from remaining white farmers in defiance of court orders. Most of the white farmers who recently lost their land are single farm owners with some having given up their other farms in keeping with the government policy of ‘one man one farm’. This policy has now been consigned to the political dustbin as happened to the once credited reconciliation policy, in pursuit of political expediency and greed. Given this kind of behaviour, it appears there is now overwhelming conventional wisdom among the rich and powerful nations that sanctions in Zimbabwe stay unless and until there is a radical of change of policy by the Zanu PF government. It remains to be seen whether any strengthening of these sanctions will influence any change of course by the Zanu PF regime which l very much doubt. Only a significant carrot and stick approach from those with power can influence change in Zimbabwe.
The recent scenes of desperate white farmers being shown in international television footages suggest that Zimbabwe is a ‘racist country’ embarking on a process of ‘ethnic cleansing’. Some well known sections of the international corporate media, traditionally supportive of white supremacy in Zimbabwe and South Africa have actually gained political mileage on this issue by giving credence to the above. It would appear the ruling elite in Harare have no moral grounds to defend themselves against the above racist charge. More than 3000 white commercial farmers lost their land to a chaotic and widely discredited land reform process in Zimbabwe. It is surprising whether today; the removal of the remaining 400 white commercial farmers will improve things any further. The 400 or so white farmers who are currently being victimised by Mugabe and Zanu PF are ordinary Zimbabweans seeking survival not confrontation and one wonders why they are being punished and discriminated against. The question to ask is why harassing such a tiny minority group of people whose land will not make any difference to Zimbabwe’s grain deficit. Analysts say it is all political gimmickry meant to wood wink gullible voters in Zimbabwe ahead of the do or die gladiatorial election contest in March 2008. The white farmers in Zimbabwe have been perceived rightly or wrongly as victims of a vindictive and increasingly belligerent government.
Zimbabwe is now failing to feed its people and importing grain from small and poor countries such as Malawi and Zambia which is unprecedented in our proud history. It is apparent that due to poor policies, corruption, greed and mismanagement, billions of Zimbabwean dollars have been wasted trying to support and equip makeshift farmers with no idea of farming. The emerging black owned banks and other financial institutions have been reluctant to fund the flawed land reform due to the absence of proper/legal farm ownership and lack of collateral for the new farmers. Zimbabwe is largely an agrarian based economy whose current policies do not reflect that reality in a significant way. Mugabe’s successive agriculture ministers some of whom are expired academics/intellectuals have destroyed agriculture and its vital institutions in the country. The shortage of beef and other dairy products in Zimbabwe today is partly due to farm invasions and mysterious disappearance of livestock from the invaded white farms among other factors. The production and export of horticultural products, major foreign currency earners have also been seriously threatened.