SW Radio Africa (London)

11 February 2013

Zimbabwe: MDC Must Stay Out of Sanctions Issue

opinion

It really irks me every time the MDC takes it upon itself to fight ZANU-PF battles while abandoning issues they promised to fight for on behalf of the people.

I have long wondered what happened to the MDC because they seem to have abandoned issues that caused people to vote for them.

Instead, they have steadily grown into full time ZANU-PF apologists, running around the country and the world talking about how sanctions against Mugabe and his ilk should be removed as if it is any of their concern.

What an unthankful bunch!

Those sanctions were imposed on individuals who were abusing the nation, particularly MDC supporters. The reasons why those sanctions were imposed are still there yet the MDC now appears happier in bed with ZANU-PF than with the people, in and outside Zimbabwe, who sympathised with them.

They still sympathise with them but look at how the MDC is reacting. Just because they are now part of the gravy train does not mean Zimbabwe's problems are solved or are near to be solved.

The MDC is embarrassing to say the least and when I hear and see people like Tendai Biti using state or party funds to go around the world campaigning for the sanctions' removal when he cannot address a rally in Zimbabwe is very unfortunate.

The MDC is behaving like the idiot who mugs a good Samaritan who has risked everything to help him.

Just because Jabulani Sibanda and Chipangano have not yet beaten up Biti does not mean all is well in Zimbabwe. Biti and his party must be sensitive to the views of the people instead of getting too overwhelmed with power when people are still being abused.

Was it not Biti himself who said Zimbabwe had only $217 dollars in the bank? Was it not Biti himself who complained about the disappearance of money realised from the diamond fields of Chiadzwa?

What are these people really up to?

With no African country leading the crusade to stop the madness in our country, resistance to Robert Mugabe and his murderous followers has always been spearheaded by those outside Africa, notably the European Union, the United States and Australia.

Political tensions are, again, on the rise in Zimbabwe where Mugabe continues his mad rampage, abusing opposition supporters and beating up innocent people in the countryside.

Since those sanctions were imposed, nothing has changed in Zimbabwe and yet the MDC has decided to say that selected sanctions must be removed.

As a referendum and elections loom, violence is on the rise, people cannot assemble or demonstrate, the media is still in chains and ZANU-PF's vigilante groups like Chipangano and Al Shabaab are always on the rampage against innocent people.

Just a few weeks ago, MDC supporters in Chegutu and Mberengwa were on the receiving end of ZANU-PF violence when village heads and traditional leaders were targeted by ZANU PF officials, who were demanding lists of all the residents under their jurisdiction and a breakdown of what political party they support.

At about the same time, heavily armed police raided the Zvishavane home of the MDC-T chairperson for Midlands South province on the pretext of looking for 'smuggled goods'.

And just on Sunday, Jabulani Sibanda, a ZANU-PF thug and proxy, lectured traditional and church leaders against accommodating MDC supporters in their communities.

Sibanda openly portrayed MDC leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as an agent of the devil and urged them to make sure that they don't have anyone with MDC-T cards in their areas.

Said Sibanda: "They don't believe in our own God, but in Satan. I am shocked there are pastors who are in MDC-T structures."

And Tendai Biti acknowledges this by jumping up to ask the European Union to remove the targeted sanctions.

A leading international human rights group last week urged the European Union to demand "tangible human rights reforms, and free and fair elections before lifting targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe".

"It would be premature for the EU to lift targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle simply for holding a referendum on a new constitution," said Tiseke Kasambala, Africa advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "Removing or suspending the measures before Zimbabwe carries out any comprehensive rights reforms will give Mugabe and his party free rein to continue repression ahead of elections."

Some people feel for us and want to help, yet we have the MDC, the biggest beneficiary of the fallout from these targeted sanctions, running around asking for the sanctions to be lifted, why?

They are part of the rot now. They are eating from the same bowl with ZANU-PF.

The MDC might care to explain what has happened in Zimbabwe to warrant the removal of sanctions.

Instead of encouraging the doing of good, the removal of sanctions will give hope to the wrongdoers. This is a time to stop the madness.

The sanctions were imposed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and some European countries.

It is important here to note that, contrary to sympathy provoking propaganda from ZANU-PF, the targeted sanctions were not imposed on the country of Zimbabwe but on selected individuals of Mugabe's government who were causing and who are still causing a lot of misery to the people of Zimbabwe at the same time they are ruling economic ruin on the nation.

The sanctions were imposed for several reasons, chief among which were the ransacking of the economy, the abuse of human rights, the lack of the rule of law, stolen elections, intolerance and state sponsored violence on members of the opposition and those who were suspected to be sympathetic to the opposition.

None of these issues have changed.

The sanctions were directed at those in power and their prominent supporters who were abusing the nation and the people.

We are still faced with the same problems perpetrated by the same people.

We have no currency; the US Dollar, the South African Rand and the Botswana Pula are our bastard currencies.

There are some who cheered when the sanctions were imposed; today we cannot cheer because the reasons those sanctions were imposed are still there.

No, this is not the right time to remove or loosen the sanctions and the MDC knows it.

People are still being beaten up, threatened and killed.

People were prevented from creating their own constitution.

There are no human rights.

There is no rule of law.

There are no property rights.

The police and the army are serving a political party not the nation.

The war veterans have upped their campaign of violence and intimidation.

Mugabe has not honoured the Unity Agreement.

Sanctions must stay and the only change to be made on them is to tighten them.

The heart of the matter is that the international community must ignore the MDC's calls to lift the sanctions.

On its part, the MDC must stop this steady decline in political morals just because a few of them are now sitting pretty at the top.

The MDC must maintain its ties with the people. It must put people first, not its leadership. The MDC has no business calling for the removal of sanctions. Those sanctions helped them get into power but the battle is far from being won.

The targets have not been accomplished; the battle is still raging; if those sanctions, are lifted at this point the EU and the US would be intervening on Mugabe's side, not on the people's side.

If those sanctions are loosened or removed, Europe and the west will be throwing us back to square one and we will then come face to face with the MDC, whose aims are becoming questionable by the day.

The EU must ignore sanction removal calls from the MDC.

As Human Rights Watch said, if the EU wants to help create a sustainable rights-respecting environment in Zimbabwe, then it should hold off lifting or suspending targeted sanctions until after Zimbabwe holds credible, free and fair elections.

"Such action would reaffirm the EU's commitment to Zimbabwe's political and economic well-being."

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my compatriots, is the way it is today, Thursday, February 11, 2013.

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