It has become a tired and lame excuse, but the ZANU PF government still seems intent on hiding its perennial economic mismanagement and incompetence behind imaginary economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries.
Nevertheless, although it is common knowledge that these so-called sanctions are targeted at the riling elite, and have absolutely no impact on the country’s economy, let us base this discourse on the hypothetical notion that the economic sanctions were real – just for argument’s sake.
There are countries in this world that have also had economic sanctions imposed on them by the West, and yet have performed significantly very well.
A case in point is Iran, which has had economic sanctions imposed on it by the United States of America (USA) since 1979, after its Islamic Revolution.
Additionally, it has had very severe sanctions progressively imposed on it by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) since the 31st July 2006, as a result of its uranium enrichment programme.
It is actually on record that the UNSC sanctions imposed on Iran are the toughest the world community has ever imposed on any country.
This is shown by the number of UNSC sanctions resolutions passed on Iran since 2006, which total eight.
Since the 31st July 2006 UNSC resolution 1696, there have been resolutions 1737 (23 December 2006), 1747 (24 March 2007), 1803 (3 March 2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (9 June 2010), 1984 (2 June 2011), and 2049 (7 January 2012).
These comprehensive sanctions covered nearly every aspect of the Iran economy from oil, gas, petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum, business, banking, insurance, shipping, web-hosting and domain names, arms, and so forth.
Additionally, other individual countries and groupings imposed their own sanctions, such as the European Union (EU), Australia, Canada, China, India, Russia and others.
Note that countries both in the West and the East imposed sanctions on Iran – the country was completely caught between a rock and a hard place – they could not have a ‘Look East’ programme.
Actually, the list of sanctions on Iran is too long for an Op-Ed of this length, but virtually the whole of Iranian life was under sanctions.
Would such a country as Iran not be justified in making excuses for a poor performing economy.
If it had the economic statistics such as Zimbabwe’s, would they not have a good reason for that?
In fact, if these were the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, I seriously doubt if anyone would be up in arms with the ZANU PF government for the non-performance of the economy.
Nonetheless, Iranians never whined and whinged behind sanctions, as they made sure that they overcame them with sound economic policies.
This meant that the country had a genuine zero tolerance towards corruption – such that Iran is rated 27 points out of 100 in the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International – with an average 25.92 points between 2003 and 2015.
This is Iran’s success secret – sound economic policies and a genuine zero tolerance towards corruption.
However, Zimbabwe is ranked 150 out of 175 countries in the 2015 Corruption Perception Index – as the rampant corruption in the country can be clearly seen by all.
These policies have resulted in Iran being the second largest economy in the whole of the Middle East and North Africa – only surpassed by Saudi Arabia – with a Gross Domestic Product of US$393.7 billion for 2015.
It has an unemployment rate of only 11%, despite having the second largest population in the region – only next to Egypt.
The county’s primary source of revenue is oil – although, it has the second largest natural gas reserves in the world – which shows just how much disciplined they are in making sure that every cent accrued is accounted for, and is not pillaged by the ruling class, whereby US$15 billion can just vanish into thin air.
Despite Zimbabwe being endowed with such exportables as nickel, platinum, diamonds and tobacco, institutionalised corruption has resulted in the loss of billions and billions of dollars, which would have been more than enough to feed the over 4 million starving Zimbabweans, revitalise the ailing local industry, buy medication for our hospitals, books for schools, pay back debt, plus so much more.
Although, companies from all across the world were forbidden from investing in Iran, due to the sanctions, the country’s sound economic policies and accountability resulted in major local investment and prosperity.
On the contrary, Zimbabwe lacks significant Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), as well as, any significant local investment – in fact, companies are closing on a daily basis or operating far below capacity – resulting in massive job losses, and non-payment of salaries and other benefits to employees.
If a country can achieve such successes, in spite of all the challenges of the most severe sanctions ever imposed on any country in history, what excuse does the ZANU PF government have for its dismal failures?
Just what is so special about these so-called ‘sanctions’ that the Zimbabwe government fails to such record-breaking proportions – with a once prosperous country being reduced to a basket case?
Zimbabwe’s GDP stands at a paltry US$13.89, and has 90% unemployment – whereby university graduates are reduced to street vendors.
Despite sanctions that have had the potential of crippling the Iranian health and education sectors, the country is a world leader in science and technology – having made significant strides in home-grown solutions to its challenges.
However, here in Zimbabwe, the ZANU PF government wails about sanctions, even failing to provide the most basic of medications to the very poor in our society.
Schools lack the very basics, whereby the already burdened parents are required to buy chalk for the teachers.
It is very clear that Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has nothing to do with sanctions, but have everything to do with the ZANU PF government’s mismanagement, incompetence, and systematic corruption.
The fault for Zimbabwean’s struggles is entirely ZANU PF’s, and the obsessive talk about sanctions – which we all know to be targeted at the ZANU PF leadership – should stop forthwith.
The ZANU PF government should finally admit that it has failed, and stop taking the people of Zimbabwe as fools.
Iran has shown that, no matter what sanctions are imposed on a country, if the political will is present, nothing can stand in the way of prosperity – such that, it is clear that the ZANU PF government has no such will at all.
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to WhatsApp/call: +263782283975, or email: email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @Tendai_Mbofana