Zimbabwe: Media Must Not Mislead Public On Effects of Sanctions

29 November 2019

I just read an article in your publication (IOL) that was written by Shannon Ebrahim on the 25th of November 2019, headed "Lifting Sanctions on Zimbabwe Won't Solve Zimbabwe's Woes".

In this article, Shannon makes a number of problematic unqualified presuppositions about US sanctions on Zimbabwe and goes further to make unsubstantiated accusations against the Government of Zimbabwe, which is very concerning to us.

Firstly, she claims that the US sanctions on Zimbabwe are targeted upon a few individuals (83 entities or Special Designated Nationals) and that the main problem affecting the Zimbabwean economy was not sanctions but corruption and mismanagement by the Government.

We find these assertions incorrect and malicious, hence we would like to challenge your publication to:

1. Please outline and substantiate the corruption and mismanagement that it claims are being perpetrated by our Government.

2. Outline the nature of investigations conducted to test and verify these claims that our Government is corrupt and prone to mismanagement.

3. As is required by the international Bill of Human Rights, please indicate which competent court or tribunal in the Republic of Zimbabwe or anywhere else in the world, has tried and convicted the institution of the Zimbabwean Government for corruption, to justify your publication criminalising that institution.

4. Indicate if you have conducted any study on the monetary, human, social and psychological cost of illegal coercive measures (sanctions) imposed on Zimbabwe by the world's economic superpower and the entire Western world and compared that against the cost of your untested allegations of corruption and mismanagement to arrive at your conclusion.

5. Provide any studies you have done on the threat and security risk that these sanctions pose on Zimbabwe and the SADC region, for you to qualify to under estimate the impact of sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy and people.

6. Show us the formula or research assessment used by your publication to determine that if illegal US and EU economic warfare and humanitarian violations on Zimbabwe are removed, Zimbabwe would not recover due to your unsubstantiated allegations of corruption or mismanagement.

7. List, for us the 83 targeted persons (as per your article) upon whom ZDERA, EO13469, US IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers Act) and National Emergency Act sanctions are on.

And outline the individuals that constitute the institution of the Government of Zimbabwe, upon which the national emergency was declared and the EO13469 sanctions imposed.

8. Specify if your article was based on fact, opinion or rumours.

9. Specify the source of the information used to generate the article and whether you had adequate information to compile such an article or if it was compiled without enough information.

10. Considering that an economic superpower like the United States and her allies, through the Congress enacting a specific law against a small country like Zimbabwe [ZDERA], to punish it for taking land and playing a role in fighting imperialism in Congo.

Additionally, the US president declaring a national emergency on the same small country to institute war and defence international economic powers or weapons, to destroy the economy with the discretion of escalating the national emergency so as to put boots on Zimbabwean soil if the threat that Zimbabwe poses to US resource appetite in our country is not neutralised.

Please explain why such an economic attack; deployed deliberately, upon a small country to destroy it, would in the conclusion of your publication, not be the cause of the destruction of its economy that was one of the best run economies in Africa for 21 years, before the illegal sanctions were imposed?

11. Were the conclusions made in your publication reached by scientific enquiry or the desire to drive the racial stereotype that black governments cannot govern, thus you go out of your way to play down the impact of sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy?

12. Explain how the Nazis, Imperial Japan, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, Greece, apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia, Serbia, Iraq and Libya succumbed to sanctions, many of which were less punitive than those on Zimbabwe, but in your conclusion Zimbabwe which has had more sanctions for a longer period than most, is not being affected by 18 years of sanctions but corruption?

Is your publication suggesting that African nations are immune to the same economic war that broke countries like Germany and Japan, which required the Marshall Plan to resurrect them?

Zimbabweans United Against US War Sanctions

We are a civilian movement fighting against US and EU illegal unilateral coercive measures (that are not backed by the UN), economic warfare and recolonisation of the African continent.

We stand against these sanctions because:

They are economic warfare and an illegal, inhumane collective punishment of 16 million innocent civilians in Zimbabwe, for Western economic interests.

They are coercive use of aggression upon a state, without the senders following the dispute resolution processes of the UN Charter in an effort to exert hegemony by the West.

They are unilateral and not sanctioned by the UN Human Rights Council, UN General Assembly or Security Council, yet the UN Charter stipulates that the multilateral body is the only one authorised to impose sanctions upon nations, only after the impact of such measures has been weighed by the human rights body and a vote by the body of nations has been conducted for impartiality.

They are interference by another state in the internal workings of a sovereign nation, in violation of the sovereignty and equality of nations. These actions deprive the Zimbabwean people of their political rights to self determine in their democracy.

Therefore, as outlined in the UN rapporteur's report to the UN in 2017, the unilateral sanctions are a violation of human rights and a contravention of international law.

History also tells us that, of the 33 national emergencies declared by the United States upon nations since the enactment of the National Emergency Act in 1979, close to 82% of them have turned into US sponsored civil war or invasion of those countries.

Hence we believe that US sanctions are a form of hybrid war that includes economic weapons, propaganda, disinformation, economic sabotage and destabilization, tailored to cause civil unrest and open way for US and western intervention in countries, as we have seen in Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and Syria.

Through hearings in the British Parliament over the past few years, it has been established that false information about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction (Executive Orders 13303) and Gaddafi killing his people (Executive Orders 13566), were all information used to invade those two countries. Only for it to emerge recently, that Western intelligence agencies and media deliberately peddled falsehoods, to justify invasions on women and children for oil.

Subsequently, Brown University's Cost of War Project has determined that in the last 18 years since 9/11, the United States has attacked Afghanistan (EO13224), Iraq, Libya, Syria (EO13338) and Yemen (EO13611) in which more than 3,1 million people have been murdered.

In all these wars, the media was instrumental in dehumanising the governments and citizens of those countries to justify bombs being dropped on women and children for oil.

This is why it concerns us, that an African publication advocates unsubstantiated information to taint an entire government and its people, in an effort to dehumanise them in the eyes of the South African public. This is without making any attempt to give accurate information on the sanctions themselves or to expose their immoral and illegal violation of international law and the human rights of 16 million Africans for imperialist ends.

South Africa Media Code of Ethics and Conduct

According to the print media code of ethics and conduct, the South African media is to:

take care to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly;

present news in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation, material omissions, or summarisation;

present only what may reasonably be true as fact; opinions, allegations, rumours or suppositions shall be presented clearly as such;

verify the accuracy of doubtful information, if practicable; if not, this shall be stated;

state where a report is based on limited information, and supplement it once new information becomes available;

make amends for presenting inaccurate information or comment by publishing promptly and with appropriate prominence a retraction, correction, explanation or an apology;

prominently indicate when an online article has been amended or an apology or retraction published and link such to that text, while the original article may remain;

not support propaganda for war.

not advance racial or religious prejudice.

and all this must be done with public interest at heart.

So when your publication disinforms the South African public on the illegal, unilateral sanctions that have been deployed on the Zimbabwean people, killing hundreds of thousands, destroying institutions, infrastructure and losing the country over US$50 billion in trade. In the process displacing more than 3 million people as refugees into the Southern African community, while risking civil unrest or US invasion. How exactly are you serving the interests of the South African public and the Zimbabwean refugees living in the republic?

Zimbabwean Sanctions Explained

Just for context, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZDERA) prohibits the Zimbabwean Government (national and local governments), ministries, State Owned Enterprises and institutions from getting development and reconstruction loans and, more importantly, cancellation of colonial debt.

Those sanctions affect the ability of the national government, local government, ministries and parastatals to deliver services, to the people of Zimbabwe and in particular, the most vulnerable of our society.

They prevent reconstruction of the country from colonialism and the liberation war, for which the country never got restitution or reparations, while also preventing us from seeking redress for the destabilisation visited upon Zimbabwe and SADC by the apartheid South African government, on behalf of Western countries between 1980 and 1992, at a cost of US$2,8 billion (US$4,7 billion today) on Zimbabwe.

This in turn maintains the yoke of short-term, high interest colonial loans of about US$800 million (US$2,4 billion today), taken by the Rhodesian government to buy weapons, to stop our parents from getting independence.

These loans, which had to be repaid by 1987, at nterests of above 11 percen per annum, were repaid by more debts to the tune of US$1 billion; taken from Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays to repay these debts, save Zimbabwe from the terrible drought and recession in 1984, build 5 409 schools, 1 161 hospitals, clinics and more than 700 000 houses that were not build by the colonial government in contravention of their Human Rights Declaration obligations.

As the dollar devalued due to onerous conditions imposed by the IMF, for Zimbabwe to access loans to develop infrastructure, which included the Hwange power plant and 7000km of road. Repayment of previous debts and new debts, had to be made by taking more debt. All in the while, for reconciliation purposes, the Zimbabwean Government was induced into buying back land from the illegal colonial settler, leading to ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) and default on the colonial compound debt repayments we can't cancel today.

The consequences of ZDERA, therefore, affect each and every Zimbabwean, in particular the most vulnerable members of our society and not targeted individuals. The colonial debts and their interest, continue to mount, inhibiting capital accumulation, the building of power generation, roads, hospitals and railways, to lift ordinary people out of poverty in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

EO13469 Sanctions

In 2003, a National Emergency was declared on 80 Special Designated Nationals of Zimbabwe by the United States President George W Bush. From this the unilateral and illegal Executive Order sanctions: EO13288, were imposed on these SDNs who included Government officials.

In 2005 the orders were amended to EO13391 and more names of companies and relatives of the former SDNs were added, to put a spanner in the economic engine of the country.

However, on the 25th of July 2008, something extraordinary happened, as the US president declared a National Emergency on the Zimbabwean Government itself, to impose Executive Orders EO13469.

With these sanctions, the economic weapons of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), were deployed to stop US banks from processing Zimbabwean payments, prohibiting global trade, free flow of investment, loans, exports, purchases of machinery, technology and tools.

NOTE: The IEEPA is an act of war, which falls under defence and war in US code Title 50 and most don't pay attention to that fact.

Most people across the world get lost by these sanctions because they all focus on the prescripts of the EO13469 sanctions, but they ignore the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which are standard war and defence sanctions or economic weapons used on threats to US interests, to neutralize the threat economically.

However, if the threat is not neutralised by the economic weapons, the US president is given authority by the same Act, to escalate the national emergency to put boots on the ground of the country under sanctions.

The IEEPA goes on to say that any company in the US and any from outside the US, are prohibited from ASSISTING identified THREATS to US Economic, Security and Foreign Policy Interests, through processing payments, trading, buying, selling or assisting them with products, software, technology, investment, machinery, tools or logistics, unless the US president gives a licence or permission.

In this case, those threats to US interests, outlined in the National Emergency declared on the 25th of July 2008, are the Government of Zimbabwe, its ministries, local governments, parastatals and others of the 144 Special Designated Nationals.

Over and above that, in line with the prohibitions I outlined above, any company, person or institution that assists, sells products, gives services, technology and assistance to Zimbabwe, are under the threat of secondary sanctions and penalties at the discretion of the US president.

So, who are the entities that have offered the Zimbabwean Government, its municipalities, ministries, companies and parastatals services, products, technology, logistics and assistance since 2008? It's every financial institution, company and taxpayer in the republic and many in South Africa too.

By deduction this means all people, businesses, entities, SOEs and governments that provided assistance or services to the Zimbabwean government without licence from the US president, can be investigated and penalized for infringing the IEEPA by mere announcement of the US President.

This is how many Zimbabwe and international banks like CBZ and Standard Chartered have subsequently been fined heavily, while international payments of many other entities in Zimbabwe, were blocked by western banks.

It's also the same reason why more than 109 correspondent banks have cut ties with Zimbabwe, including Chinese and South African banks recently. All these restrictions affect the economic engine of the country and region, impacting investment, job creation, production of exports, raising foreign currency and generating taxes, which affects the quality of life of all Zimbabweans.

So, the conclusion is: THERE ARE NO targeted sanctions on a few Zimbabweans, but the sanctions are collective punishment upon 16 million Zimbabweans, for the sanctions sender's political aims. Furthermore, these sanctions are causing instability that is beginning to create conditions for Western intervention, which could destabilise the entire SADC region.

This is why we would like to appeal to your publication and others in South Africa, to stop fomenting a regional security threat, by misleading the publics of the region in an effort to make them indifferent to the crime against humanity upon the Zimbabwean people. And yes, Zimbabweans are human, something I think the racist South African media seems not to recognise.

For too long now, the South African media has dehumanised Zimbabweans by condoning their violation by illegal unilateral Western sanctions, on the false pretext that the sanctions are justified because they are targeted only on corrupt Government officials. That's a lie that we seek to debunk by this rebuttal to your publication.

All in the while, these falsehoods foment division among Zimbabweans, cause instability and deny us the solidarity of the citizens of the region in fighting this inhumane attack upon citizens of the SADC community.

Such media propaganda is what we saw playing itself out in the Arab countries where 3,1 million people have been murdered by the Americans and their Western partners for the resources of those nations, while the world turned a blind eye to those atrocities.

Your duty as a regional publication is to tell the public the truth to defend human rights and values that protect the public interest of this nation and its regional partners. Not to advance disinformation in the region in promotion of imperialism.

Our Demands

We believe that your disinformation is a threat to South Africa and regional welfare, and for that reason we demand that you:

1. Retract all the inaccurate information and untested suppositions that you published in your publication without support.

2. Make an effort to educate people on the impact of these sanctions on innocent civilians in Zimbabwe and the SADC region.

3. Apologise for the misrepresentation and dehumanisation of the Zimbabwean Government and its people by your unfounded allegations.

4. Expose the illegal nature of these sanctions and their violation of international law, human rights and the Human Rights Council report.

This is so that you restore the Zimbabwean people the humanity and dignity that your articles have diminished by ignoring the violation of their rights.

All the above requests are in the public interest of South African and regional citizens, who are also suffering from the displacement of millions of Zimbabwean refugees coming into their countries and the suppression of the SADC economy by this illegal economic war.

If you fail to make the relevant amendments, we will proceed to make a complaint to the press ombudsman, while we weigh other options.

It's, therefore, imperative that the South African media desists from being used to destabilise the region, in a desire to bring civil unrest and Western military intervention upon neighbouring states because that only pushes more Zimbabwean refugees into the region.

We enjoin media houses such as yours to exercise caution, compassion and responsibility for a neighbouring country and the region, by desisting from spreading propaganda that destabilises a SADC member state and dehumanises the Zimbabwean people, in a quest to perpetuate the human rights violations that are being visited upon them by illegal economic war.

Thank You and Regards

Rutendo Matinyarare, Zimbabweans Unite Against US War Sanctions (ZUAUWS)

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