Mnangagwa govt lies about sanctions worsened Zimbabweans’ suffering!

Source: Mnangagwa govt lies about sanctions worsened Zimbabweans’ suffering!

So Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is begging the US government to inform banks that sanctions on Zimbabwe had been lifted.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


He made this call recently in the US capital Washington DC as he attended the Spring meetings of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank.

He is doing this in light of the country reportedly having lost over 100 correspondent banking relationships over the past two decades due to Zimbabwe’s perceived high risk status.

This has resulted in immense difficulties in financial transactions between Zimbabwe entities and international institutions.

Some bank transfers are said to take three to four weeks or even more – thereby negatively hampering business operations and trade.

The question, nonetheless, is: How did Zimbabwe become such a high risk?

Are international banks barred under the US sanctions law, ZIDERA (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act) from doing business with Zimbabwe?

The answer is quite simple.

It is a big NO.

International banking institutions are free to process financial transactions with most Zimbabweans.

That is why even though the country allegedly lost over 100 correspondent banking relationships, there are still some international banks working with our local institutions.

There is really nothing for any international bank to fear in handling Zimbabwean transactions.

The only restrictions were in dealing with a handful of individuals and entities on the sanctions list – whose names did not even fill one page.

This explains the reason, in 2019, Standard Chartered Bank was fined US$18 million by OFAC (the US Office of Foreign Assets Control) after handling transactions by Zimbabwean state-owned firms and sanctioned individuals.

However, outside of these sanctioned individuals and entries – whose names were clearly defined under US targeted restrictions – banking institutions were free to deal with anyone else in Zimbabwe.

Again, I ask: So from where did all this fear of doing business with Zimbabwe emanate?

The answer may shock many.

The belief that dealing with Zimbabwe was high risk was planted by the President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa administration itself.

In fact, it began during the Robert Gabriel Mugabe era after targeted sanctions were imposed by the US, UK, and EU at the turn of the new millennium.

Instead of reassuring the world that these restrictive measures were only aimed at a few individuals and entities, so there was really no need to panic – the Zimbabwe government chose fear mongering.

Both Mugabe and Mnangagwa elected to exploit every opportunity on the global stage to peddle the shameful falsehood that the country was under economic sanctions.

They attributed every little thing that had gone wrong in Zimbabwe, in particular the unprecedented economic meltdown experienced over the past two decades, on these supposed sanctions.

The regime even went further by claiming that the reason Zimbabwe was not receiving any lines of credit from international lenders was on account of this economic embargo.

Yet those in government knew fully well that the real reason was that Zimbabwe had not been paying back loans amounting to over US$12 billion after defaulting in the late 1990s.

This is why the Mnangagwa administration is currently engaging its international creditors through a debt resolution program mediated by the President of the African Development Bank Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano

In all these instances, the Zimbabwe authorities were fully aware of the truth, but they elected to lie to both the local and global community by making out these ‘sanctions’ into something they were not.

In so doing, this painted Zimbabwe as a high-risk country, thereby instilling fear in international institutions.

Imagine someone who goes around telling anyone who cares to listen that he had just been released from prison, where he had served twenty years for robbery and fraud.

Yet, in truth, he was only detained for a few days on a charge of disorderly conduct after drinking too much!

Whose fault would it be when people become wary of the man and no company wants to give him a job or do business with him – as they perceive him as high risk, unreliable, and a grave danger to society?

It is the same scenario with Zimbabwe.

The government’s own ‘cry wolf’ behaviour – as they exaggerated, or in fact, blatantly lied about the real extent of targeted sanctions imposed on a few individuals and entities – is what turned Zimbabwe into high risk.

This is corroborated by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights,  Alena Douhan.

Her 2022 report entitled ‘Secondary sanctions, civil and criminal penalties for circumvention of sanctions regimes and overcompliance with sanctions’ was most telling.

Firstly, Douhan never specified which ‘primary sanctions’ exactly affected what part of the Zimbabwean economy.

She, instead, elected to devote the bulk of her report on what are termed ‘secondary sanctions’ – in reference to the ‘unintended consequences’ of these targeted restrictive measures.

In other words, targeted sanctions imposed by the US and her allies on a few individuals and entities in Zimbabwe had absolutely zero direct impact on our economy.

The only effect on Zimbabwe were ‘unintended consequences’ – which means the impact of the targeted sanctions on the country, which was not a direct result of these measures.

That is why Douhan chose to call these ‘secondary sanctions’.

In other words, the fear by international institutions to do business with Zimbabwe was not a direct consequence of these sanctions.

There was another reason for these ‘unintended consequences’ and ‘overcompliance’ as highlighted by Douhan.

What was that reason?

As already mentioned, the Zimbabwe regime is totally to blame for fomenting fear in the international community by unashamedly lying that the country was under tough economic sanctions.

Who would want to deal with such a country?

Yet, in reality, only a few individuals and entities were on financial and travel restrictions.

By making a mountain out of a molehill, Zimbabwe was its own worst enemy.

Even today, when Mthuli Ncube is unambiguously declaring (as he recently did in Washington DC) that sanctions on Zimbabwe had been lifted, on the other hand, Mnangagwa continues to declare that the country is still under sanctions.

The result of Mnangagwa’s ill-advised statements is continued fear by international institutions to do business with Zimbabwe.

A wise leadership would be busy informing the world that there were no sanctions on the country and Zimbabwe was open for business.

Yet, we have those doing exactly the opposite.

Of course, we all know why those in power chose to lie about sanctions.

They have always used these restrictive measures to hide their own gross mismanagement and rampant corruption – which are the real reasons Zimbabwe’s economy is in an unforgivable mess.

Who then is really harming Zimbabwe and causing the people’s suffering – whether through panting the country as high risk or destroying the economy?

Who then is really causing harm on Zimbabwe’s economy?

Zimbabweans’ enemies are clearly in the government itself!