24 August 2010

Zimbabwe: Government Says No to Handouts

Photo: IRIN
Maize being grown at Huambo's Agricultural Institute in Angola.

Harare — Zimbabwe does not want handouts from the international community and only needs the illegal economic sanctions the West imposed to be lifted to achieve self-reliance, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has said.

In a frank exchange with ambassadors and other diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe at Munhumutapa Building in Harare yesterday, Minister Mumbengegwi said the existence of sanctions created the conditions for dependency on aid. He was giving them a briefing on the outcome of last week's Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit in Windhoek, Namibia.

Among the issues highlighted was that Sadc had again slammed the sanctions saying the embargo was affecting the entire region. Germany's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Albrecht Conze, had tried to claim that the sanctions were targeted and did not impact on the national economy.

This was after Ambassador Adadi Rajabu of Tanzania had said the very people who had imposed the debilitating and discredited sanctions were in that room. Said Ambassador Rajabu: "Your Excellency, we always talk about the removal of sanctions, but the people who imposed the sanctions are here in this room looking at you.

"We formed a committee in Brussels (Belgium) with the EU ministers to come up with a solution, but I don't know how far you have gone in this engagement?" Minister Mumbengegwi responded, "Sanctions are a very serious matter to Zimbabwe and the region and this is why the (Sadc) Heads of State resolved to tackle this issue at the highest level because we cannot proceed as a region with one member under sanctions."

At this point, Ambassador Conze claimed the sanctions were targeted. The German envoy also then implied Government was lying that there was no Western financial aid coming to Zimbabwe because the European Union was extending humanitarian assistance.

The Foreign Affairs Minister then told him: "Under normal circumstances, Zimbabwe is not a candidate for humanitarian assistance. "We find it demeaning because as Zimbabweans we are a people with pride. You crippled our economy and in turn you want us to be grateful for your humanitarian assistance.

"Lift your sanctions and see what Zimbabweans can do for themselves," he said Minister Mumbengegwi expressed amazement that in this day and age some people still claimed the sanctions were limited to travel bans on about 200 Government and Zanu-PF officials.

"About 31 top companies in Zimbabwe are under sanctions. Who are you trying to fool? "It's not fair; the reality is that sanctions are there. If your sanctions are useless, why are you maintaining them?" asked Minister Mumbengegwi. Since 2002, Minister Mumbengegwi said, the EU had suspended lines of credit and developmental assistance to Zimbabwe and the country had thus become a cash economy.

He said Government was yet to see the so-called humanitarian assistance because it was never channelled through the State. "Rather you have extended such help through your NGOs that serve your interests," he said. Ambassador Conze and his fellow Western diplomats could not respond to this.

Earlier, Minister Mumbengegwi had said the principals to the Global Political Agreement had agreed that re-appointments of provincial governors would be considered concurrently with the lifting of sanctions. He said the 30th Sadc Summit agreed that the issue of sanctions should also be addressed within 30 days along with three remaining outstanding issues.

These are to do with the status of Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana, and the status of MDC-T's preferred Agriculture Deputy Minister nominee Mr Roy Bennett.

Minister Mumbengegwi also briefed the diplomats on the Summit's resolution to suspend the Sadc Tribunal and President Jacob Zuma's report to the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation. President Zuma is the Sadc-appointed facilitator in Zimbabwe's inter-party political dialogue.

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