Zimbabwe: Anti-Sanctions Campaign Plagued By Lack of Political Buy-in

Harare (file photo).
21 October 2019

The Anti-sanctions crusade has been dealt a double whammy ahead of the 25 October march with many political actors outside the ruling party itself failing to identify with its spirit, however calling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration to self-introspect before calling on the removal of sanctions.

Recently, regional leaders threw their weight behind Mnangagwa at the 39th SADC Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Tanzania, declaring the 25th of October a solidarity day against sanctions on Zimbabwe.

While outside, support had already been earned, on the domestic front, the ruling Zanu PF party is facing a lot of resistance from the major parties and civic society ahead of its planned march this Friday.

This could work to the detriment of the political gravitas of the plot, analysts warned.

"This is going to be a huge event with a massive bearing on Zimbabwe's foreign policy. There are a lot of disclosures which might demean the relevance of the anti-sanctions mantra," political commentator, Claris Madhuku said.

"Firstly, MDC see this as a Zanu PF ploy to hide behind its shortcomings and will definitely rebuke the march. Already demonstrations against the deteriorating state of affairs by MDC and labour unions have been cancelled by the state, so this march will expose inconsistencies of the state," he added.

The main opposition party, MDC has already rubbished the idea, alleging sanctions are being used by Mnangagwa's administration as a veil to cover for its mismanagement of the economy.

Recently, MDC deputy secretary general, Job Sikhala at a Voice of America political discussion in Harare said unnecessary public expenditure and rampant corruption by Zanu PF lieutenants in government and the unrelenting corrupt tendencies by business cartels aligned to the ruling party were crippling the economy instead.

Another opposition party, United African National Council (UANC) ridiculed the anti-sanction campaign saying it was a no-brainer.

"This is a no-event to the international world. The issue of marching in Harare I don't think will make any difference because they have made their position clear, they have put up conditions which to some extent are not that hard to adhere to so that they can remove the sanctions but we are our own down players because of not upholding issues of respecting the rule of law," UANC secretary general, Alphios Mapuranga said.

On the flip-side, Madhuku says Zanu PF will leverage on parties in the POLAD set up who are desperate for political relevance and will use this platform effectively.

"There are those parties that some would say are sponsored or compromised that make up the POLAD. These will be eager to give support to Mnangagwa maybe to some extent complicating the whole matrix," added Madhuku.

The Western powers, Britain, EU and the US slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions since the turn of the millennium following a violent land reform exercise and gross human rights abuses by former President Robert Mugabe's regime.

However, following the fall of Mugabe in November of 2017, Mnangagwa had a glorious chance to turn around the tainted human rights record of his predecessor but has made little strides.

A disputed election in 2018, the post-election killing of civilians by soldiers in Harare CBD, the military brutality observed after the shutdown in January 2019 and the recent alleged state abductions have all piled up against Mnangagwa on the global stage.

But for Zimbabwe, the sanctions have had their fair share of detriment on the economy, with local businesses and financial institutions failing to enjoy certain privileges of unlocking capital at global monetary markets.

In 2017 for instance, Zimbabwe's biggest bank by asset value, CBZ was hit with an astounding US$ 3.8 billion fine by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control for acting as an intermediary for a local financial institution, ZB Bank, then under US sanctions list.

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