11-06-19 by Spotlight Zimbabwe

It’s time to engage Zimbabwe with a view to lifting sanctions


Why is Zimbabwe’s economic crisis persisting and the economic sanctions applied by the western countries not lifted? After all, President Robert Mugabe has long ago left the political stage and subsequently passed on.

Like South Africa, Zimbabwe had a significant number of white farmers, who not only dominated the political scene up to independence but continued to dominate the economy through ownership and profitable exploitation of that most important asset for which the struggle for economic independence was primarily waged: land.

Thus, when the Mugabe administration embarked on a haphazard land redistribution policy, white farmers were inescapably affected. This inevitably antagonised the British government, and relations between Zimbabwe and the UK became particularly fraught, especially during Tony Blair’s Premiership.

In 1999, civil society organisations and trade unions renounced their indirect opposition and formed a political party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Because of the fractious nature of Zimbabwe’s political scene during the Mugabe years, cases of violence among political players were a common feature, more so during elections. The government was blamed and incurred sanctions from the UK, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Sanctions remain firmly in place even after the advent of the Second Republic.

Zimbabwe pursued a ‘Look East’ “policy decidedly pivoted towards China” as the ambassador puts it. One of the most endearing aspects of China’s foreign policy towards African countries, especially those like Zimbabwe that endure Western sanctions and censure, is the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of partner-countries.

While China offers some respite, Zimbabwe still has to deal with the $5.6 billion (R82.38 billion) “owed to multilateral creditors such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank and bilateral creditors grouped under the rubric of the Paris Club and other non-Paris Club creditors, (which) disqualified Zimbabwe from accessing new financing for developmental programmes and productive sectors.”

Amid all the sullen realities, Zimbabwe has a lot of redeeming features; most importantly, it has “a literate, skilled, resilient and resourceful people within the country. Beyond its borders, it had a diaspora that, through remittances, helped to sustain families and communities and had the potential to contribute more to the development of the national economy.”

If Zimbabwe is to realise its ambition of being a middle income country by 2030, it will have to capitalise on the munificence and support of its partners, but also be seen to be determined to sanitise a highly volatile political landscape.

Vision 2030 is not merely tailored to improve the economy. It envisages for Zimbabwe “a path full of freedoms, democracy, transparency, love and harmony. A path of dialogue and debate. A path of unity, peace and development.”

The government has chosen a neo-liberal path to achieve Vision 2030. This path entails transparency and recourse for citizens that want to hold the government accountable.

Violently cracking down on opposition protesters bodes ill for Zimbabwe’s international reputation. The country cannot continue to isolate countries that have imposed sanctions on it.

The current government needs to create a conducive political climate and genuinely good international appeal.

It is, therefore, important for Britain to meaningfully re-engage Zimbabwe to find ways of normalising relations and lifting sanctions.

* Monyae is the director of Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Spotlight Zimbabwe 

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  • Mr David Monyae it was not only about Mugabe but also about this criminal cabal which is Zanu PF !
    These are the same men who perpetrated the Genocide in the 1980’s
    Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s chief enforcer and He is splattered with so much innocent Zimbabwean blood !
    You should be asking why no one has been held accountable for those 30 000 villagers slaughtered or the 350+opposition activists murdered in cold blood and thrown down mineshaft I dont hear You mentioning them or calling for justice do We Mr David Monyae ?
    Also it was not land redistribution but mass theft and murder !
    Of those 4500 farms grabbed 83% were bought and paid for after Independence in Mugabe’s Independent Zimbabwe after 1980 so this is not about a colonial imbalance ! Mugabe and Zanu PF also gave those White Farmers “Certificates of No Interest” which is why those Farmers bought the land assuming it would be a safe investment !
    They were wrong…Mugabe tore up those certificates and grabbed those farms destroying our food security and collapsing our economy and currency and resulting in 95% unemployment and 5.7 million needing food aid ! The rot went so deep that Mugabe grabbed 14 farms for Himself and couldn’t run even one !
    Our entire Bench of High Court Judges grabbed farms and they are to this day ruined and produce nothing and employ no one !
    Mnangagwa and our Politicians have all their medical needs met outside Zimbabwe while We die in the waiting rooms of our ruined Hospitals…perishing for want of the simplest medical treatments.
    These are the very real and serious reasons behind our situation.
    So spare us Your drivel, I feel sorry for the students under Your dilute vapid tutelage …