Zimbabwe: Sanctions Have Affected All Citizens

23 October 2020

In an unprecedented way the United States has made it its duty to oversee the suffering of Zimbabweans and as such the country has bled over the years. No one is spared by the baneful sanctions.

These economic sanctions are increasingly being used to promote the full range of American foreign policy objectives. Yet, all too often sanctions turn out to be little more than expressions of US preferences that hurt Zimbabwe's economy and plunge the common Zimbabweans in a pool of untold suffering.

As a rule, sanctions need to be less unilateral and more focused on the problem at hand. The American Congress and the executive branch instituted far more rigorous oversight of sanctions, both prior to adopting them and regularly thereafter. The widespread use of economic sanctions constitutes one of the paradoxes of contemporary EU and American foreign policy.

Sanctions are frequently criticized, even derided by the whole world except the ones who are imposing them. At the same time, economic sanctions are fast becoming the policy tool of choice for the United States in the post-cold war world, a tool to force submission of other sovereign nations.

The United States now maintains economic sanctions against dozens of countries; these sanctions have gnawed the crux of the economic standing of many nations including Zimbabwe. What is critical, moreover, is not just the frequency with which economic sanctions are used but their growing importance for U.S. foreign policy.

It is clear that sanctions are imposed to create confusion in the country thereby giving a chance to the strong nations to jump in and steal the natural resources of the affected countries. In outlook sanctions appear to be economic but they are also political and military, and are employed by western countries such as the United States to weaken any country they target.

To accomplish foreign policy ends, sanctions take the form of arms embargoes, foreign assistance reductions and cut-offs, export and import limitations, asset freezes, tariff increases, revocation of most favoured nation (MFN) trade status, negative votes in international financial institutions, withdrawal of diplomatic relations, visa denials, cancellation of air links, and prohibitions on credit, financing, and investment.

These penalties will surely bring a country to its knees.

Thus, sanctions have caused untold suffering on affected countries. Sanctions provide a visible and crueller suffering to the people in the grass roots. Sanctions have always mossed their targets and the innocent are the ones to suffer.

The greater reach of media is still another explanation. The CNN effect can increase the visibility of problems in another country and stimulate a desire on the part of Americans to respond. So in an action resembling a dog's breakfast American and Western press run news and programmes meant to portray Zimbabwe as a country in a war zone. They then react to their own fake news and respond.

A woman in Mutoko seems not to bother about sanctions.

She simply carries her farm produce to Mbare for selling, she does not need foreign currency. It seems that way, but because of sanctions she cannot get fuel to go to Mbare.

Her usual customers cannot afford to buy as the industries were closed due to sanctions. The chain of causation is long and these circumstances do not respect political affiliation. Every Zimbabwean is feeling the dip cut of the sanctions no one is safe from the barbaric effects of these sanctions.

Sanctions are blunt instruments that often produce unintended and undesirable consequences. Sanctions increased the economic distress on Zimbabwe triggering a dangerous and expensive exodus of people from Zimbabwe to the United States, Africa and Europe.

We have noticed that sanctions tend to be easier to introduce than to lift. It is almost always more difficult to change the status quo than to continue with it.

It is often difficult or impossible to build a consensus for rescinding a sanction, even if there has been some progress on the matter of concern, if the sanction has been shown to be counterproductive, or if other interests can be shown to suffer as a result. Zimbabwe has done everything but sanctions are still on.

The rate of unemployment is high and it all boils down to sanctions. Companies have been closed down. Closing down a company means those employed in those companies become unemployed.

Most of our graduates can no longer get jobs they have trained for.

They become road brigades and permanent home defenders.

The sanctions create a nation of zombies as many youths turn to drugs. A broken society comes from these sanctions. The Zimbabwean case involves a powerful example of the danger of locking in sanctions, as the inability to amend or lift sanctions worked to the disadvantage of smaller nations.

Sanctions fatigue tends to settle in over-time and international compliance tends to diminish. Inevitably, the issue that led to sanctions being introduced loses its emotional impact. Concerns over the humanitarian impact of sanctions also weaken.

At the same time, the target country has time to adjust. Working around sanctions, import substitution, and any improvement of living standards due to adaptation. All of these factors have eroded the impact of sanctions.

However, SADC and all other countries are saying Zimbabwe deserves better. Zimbabwe will be somewhere if these sanctions are lifted. This is because the economic, humanitarian, and foreign policy costs of U.S sanctions on Zimbabwe far outweigh any possible benefits.

Sanctions have caused great damage to innocent people--as well as to American business, workers, and U.S. foreign policy interests. America and Europe must realise that Foreign policy is not therapy, and its purpose is not to feel good but to do good. The same holds for sanctions. Multilateral support for economic sanctions should normally constitute a prerequisite for their use by the United States.

Such support need not be simultaneous, but it should be all but certain and likely to follow with little delay. Unilateral sanctions should be avoided except in those circumstances in which the United States is in a unique situation to derive leverage based on the economic relationship with the target.

This is not so much a normative assertion as a pragmatic one, based on the overwhelming evidence that unilateral sanctions achieve little. Secondary sanctions are not a desirable means of bringing about multilateral support for sanctions. Instituting sanctions against those who do not comply with the sanctions at issue is an admission of a diplomatic failure to persuade. It is also an expensive response.

The evils of the sanctions can never be forgotten. Zimbabwe blames Trump and any other president who presidesover sanctions and pretend to see nothing wrong. All sanctions embedded inlegislation should provide for presidential discretion in the form of a waiverauthority. Discretion would allow the President to suspend or terminate asanction if he judged it was in the interests of national security to do so.Such latitude is needed if relationships are not to become hostage to oneinterest and if the executive is to have the flexibility needed to explorewhether the introduction of limited incentives can bring about a desired policyend. Now Zimbabwe raises its hands as the hands are received in a show of unity by the SADC and a host of friends. As we sit on the hard rock and we must always put our heads high. We have friends who are helping us and who are limping with us are slowly but sure our resilience as Zimbabweans will take us to prosperity. We have come this far by faith and we will go that far by faith. Zimbabwe united shall never be defeated.

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