A GROUP of academics last week announced that they had joined the anti-sanctions fight, and hoped to do something that the government and its shrill supporters have failed in nearly two decades: have them removed by those who imposed them.
Under the banner of Lecturers’ Anti-Sanctions Network (LASN), they said they hoped to produce research to prove that sanctions imposed by the West were detrimental to ordinary people.
“We, the intelligentsia of the Republic of Zimbabwe, hereby take a stand to unmask the myths surrounding the sanctions saga bedevilling Zimbabwe,” LASN national co-ordinator Obediah Dodo, a lecturer at Bindura State University, said.
“We acknowledge that like any other sovereign State, Zimbabwe has its own fair share of internal contradictions which we, as Zimbabweans, should deal with, guided by our own peculiar socio-cultural dynamics.”
The country has been under these sanctions for almost two decades now, first under the late former President Robert Mugabe and continuing under his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa. But little has changed as gross human rights abuses, political violence and violation of property rights have continued unabated.
Those who imposed the sanctions are convinced that they are the only way to push the Zanu PF regime to restore democracy, rule of law and respect human rights.
UK ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson once said: “EU restrictive measures are only for the Mugabes (the late former President Mugabe and his wife Grace) and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries. The UK stands with Zimbabweans in the fight against corruption and rights abuses. That is where the government should focus its efforts.”
Mnangagwa, like Mugabe before him, claims that sanctions are responsible for the country’s economic meltdown and are an illegal tool meant to destabilise the internal political affairs of the country. Within Zanu PF there is consensus that sanctions were a serious contravention of the principle of non-interference in internal political matters as they have challenged the country’s sovereignty.
Zimbabwe’s economy has nose-dived in recent years and is struggling to contain the run-away inflation that has rendered the local currency worthless.
While the regime continues to shout to anyone and everywhere about the sanctions, it may benefit the regime to look the man in the mirror, at the restrictions it has imposed on its own people. They say charity begins at home, so sanctions removal should start from within.
Zimbabweans have no freedom of movement, association, and government polices every aspect of their lives brutally. They have no right to protest and their right to vote is conditional upon which party they vote for. A vote for a perceived enemy of the ruling party becomes void, and by operation of the law too. Because of these sanctions imposed on Zimbabweans by this regime, citizens are drowning in abject poverty and are living in fear of the very people who are supposed to be their leaders.
So we urge Mnangagwa to first remove sanctions imposed on citizens before begging outsiders to remove their sanctions meant to force him to place value on the lives of Zimbabweans. Otherwise the so-called academics are wasting their time and resources.