@Jamwanda2 on Saturday: America: They kill us for sport! US president Joe Biden

My little story on American sanctions

Only a few weeks shy of my sixty-first birthday, I have been, until late last week, on United States list of sanctioned Zimbabweans.

I have been there for twenty-one years.

Those more than two decades were, arguably, the ripest part of my life both as a biological being and as a professional civil servant.

I share the dubious honour of having been among the first ten Zimbabweans to appear on that infamous list, following some illegal, extra-territorial legislative overreach by the American Administration under the war-mongering President George Bush Junior.

That list came as part of Bush’s Executive Order13288 of March 6, 2003, enabled by the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, ZDERA, the mother law passed by the Americans in 2001.

Subsequent Executive Orders added more names, and expanded the scope of those illegal measures which America developed at the speed of vindictive whim and caprice.

The list of the sanctioned even included our dead, reminding the world America pulls you out of purgatory to serve you with, and mete out its punishment.

Rescinding Executive Orders

Only last week, on March 4, 2024, Joe Biden, the current US President decided to rescind all the three Executive Orders consecutively done by as many of his predecessors: Presidents George Bush Junior, President Barack Obama and President Trump. Still, that summary action by President Biden left 11 Zimbabweans and three entities under the constraining list.

The eleven include President ED Mnangagwa and his Deputy, Vice President CDGN Chiwenga. Another of President Biden’s innovation, executed through the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, was to transfer the charge sheet for the outstanding eleven to a new law: the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

That hard to pronounce, harder to fathom law was enacted in December 2016 under President Obama.

ZDERA’s sibling is born

This law, which rightly should be called ZDERA’s sibling, was birthed in 2012, in honour some Russian dissident and bosom friend of Dick Cheney, one Sergei Magnitsky who died in some Moscow cell.

It was originally meant for Russia, and to punish all those Russians the US deemed guilty of involvement in Sergei’s death; guilty of what US again deemed human rights abuses and/or any financial transactions the US deemed improper and punishable. 

After exhausting the list of all those Russians US deemed guilty by non-trial, the Obama Administration could not let a good law die for want of new victims.

To make its lifespan eternal and global, the Administration linked the otherwise dying law to any and all acts from any part of our globe which attracted America’s disfavour. 

Our eleven stand accused of all manner of unsubstantiated infractions by America’s labelling or profiling whim, including wanton human rights abuses and corruption.

Like all reigning deities, America has no time for proof, trials or any due process, however scant! I am reminded of a catchy line by Shakespeare’s Gloucester in the play, King Lear, which reads: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport!”

When President Mugabe nearly beat up a journalist

I recall with amusement an incident at Sharma al Sheikh, Egypt in 2008.

Late President Mugabe came perilously close to felling some aggressive western white reporter for frontal insolence.

The offending journalist had crossed the line that makes journalism decent. Livid, charging and fully cocked, the late President then directed a sharp rebuke at the offending scribe: “Bloody Idiot!”

He was ready to follow through with a good punch, God knows where.

You could hear footsteps of the smallest ant ever to crawl upon the surface of the earth.

President Mugabe’s security grappled to restrain him from demolishing this one bad sample of Caucasian humanity.

To this day I don’t doubt the late President would have done a splendid job of it.

Hanging on a banana leaf

Trained to catch the bullet, I stepped in to take over the impromptu press conference which had formed spontaneously.

That moment was ably captured and eternalised on celluloid, with me mobbed by countless western journalists, all hungry for a line from Zimbabwe.

About that same time at the United Nations in New York, Blair and Bush were working frantically to place Zimbabwe on the UN Security Council agenda, under the dire Chapter 7.

It is called a war chapter, to the extend it authorizes UN members military intervention in smaller, vulnerable states using the pretext of “responsibility to protect”.

Both Bush and Blair had long planned the invasion of Zimbabwe as retribution for our Land Reform Programme. 

Still those dire prospects did not deter me. I lashed out at Bush and Blair like a demented soul and in clear English they could not miss.

I urged both to “go hang on a banana leaf”!

The day after, one Zalmay Khalilzab, US Ambassador to the United Nations, was apoplectic, urging the Security Council’s to note how unrepentant and deserving of stern punishment Zimbabwe was. Zimbabwe was only saved from this pre-ordained bloody fate, later to visit the ill-fated Libya and Gadaffi barely three years later, in 2011, by the double veto cast against the proposed Bush/Blair Resolution by Putin’s Russia, and the People’s Republic of China. We will never forget what those two Nations did to save Zimbabwe.

The debt I do not feel at all

Dear reader, I interlarded the personal with the national and international in the preceding paragraphs.

This is not an exercise in vainglorious self-positioning.

I was and will always remain a small cog in the mighty national wheel.

In any event, sacrificing for one’s Nation is an inherent duty of any worthy citizen, for which no gratitude should be demanded, least of all by one who still lives.

There are bigger, harder and more ultimate sacrifices which thousands upon thousands of Zimbabweans have made, continue to make, and will still make in years and generations to come. 

Those are more deserving of paeans.

I wove myself into this small patch in the vast tapestry of our history to remind us that anyone would have expected me to stand hugely indebted to President Biden, his Administration and his America, for March 4, 2024 rescinding action. 

Yet I do not feel indebted at all, a fresh five days after his action.

I do not feel released at all, least of all favoured by his actions.

In fact, I remain equanimous and nonplussed now as I have been in the last 21 years of my sanctioned life. Just indifferent as I would be today or tomorrow if Biden or any other future American presidents were to decide to reinstate me to that list of American foreign policy infamy, or the obverse, that list of Zimbabwe National Honour.

My life was scalded during those twenty one years, arguably the ripest. 

So, too, was my family. Like they say, young and tender bodies bear wounds and scars better; for they still have excess tissue to repair and remedy any injury.

Sanctions visited me when I was already old; I hit the bottom and cannot fall. Equally, I am too old to dig.

Even in kindness, America still kills

Here is the nub of this whole verbal build-up: If I, the victim of America’s odious sanctions, do not feel grateful to Biden for rescinding all the Executive Orders which placed and kept me on the sanctions list, who are you to sigh with relief for me the list’s long victim?

Who are you to congratulate the personification of the system which hanged me for more than two decades, and kept trying until late last week?

When I tell you that even this rescinding act is another reminder – only in fawned kindness – that indeed “America kills us for sport”, who are you to deny it?

Who are you to be thankful, more thankful than I the “killed” and mourned one? 

These questions are even more devastating to sections of our populace which have always maintained America has no country-sanctions against Zimbabwe, only targeted ones against a few bad individuals.

Let us grant their narrative for a while, false and instigated even though it is.

If I tell you, as one of the targeted “flies” of America’s “wanton [presidential] boys”, that I do not feel reprieved, forgiven and favoured; that I still feel “killed for their sport” even in this surprising Biden revocation, what would you say?

If the measures were targeted, it also means the resultant relief felt from their removal should just be as targeted, surely? 

Today I ask: why so many of non-believers in country-sanctions, why so many people who swore by their own strange comfort uniquely felt and enjoyed under these reigning, enveloping sanctions, today join us in our relief?

How have you been reprieved when you weren’t the accused, the convicted and the sentenced? Something sounds downrightly deceitful.

So many chinks in hard armour

There is worse to come.

The Biden Administration, echoed by its Embassy here only a few days ago, said the March 4, 2024 rescinding action now paves way for normal interaction between US and Zimbabwe.

How so when there was nothing standing in the way, in the first place?

Surely I am not a summation of Zimbabwe or its fate; I cannot be expansive enough to stand between two mighty nations eager to interact normally and in a mutually beneficial fashion as envisaged in international relations.

I hope we now know that even the tightest propaganda by the mightiest power on earth, has chinks in its hardest armour!

Grateful for what?

I hear voices exhorting us to be grateful to President Biden, his Administration, and to America.

When I ask: what for?

They say: for removing sanctions!

I then say: but sanctions remain, including the mother law ZDERA of 2001?

I also point to the sanctioned first eleven who include the personification of the Zimbabwean State: President Mnangagwa and his Deputy.

My questions go further: why were those sanctions made and meant for us in the first place? 

Who are we to deserve them?

Who are we to Americans?

What sin did we committed against Americans?

Against their foreign policy to pass for “a continuing extraordinary threat” to them? 

What have we since done to remove that “continuing, extraordinary threat” to mighty America?

When did we share a mother, a father, with America?

Or even become her distant cousin, niece or nephew, near enough to deserve her laws, her executive orders and her set of crippling sanctions, and for so long?

To deserve even the wink of her eye? When did we engraft on our national personality this aptitude for compassion to one who sins against us without any cause or quarrel?

Against us who never sinned against her?

Not even America’s moral protectorate

Let a few hard truths be said here and now, and in very bold print.

Zimbabwe is not a second Liberia which owes its original existential being to America by the proxy of the American Colonisation Society, ASC.

Even in the case of Liberia, America refused to colonize it directly, or even to turn it into a protectorate.

Rather, the worst America did, in spite of importuning of ASC, was to claim some nebulous status over Liberia as its “moral protectorate”!

Yet the new inhabitants of Liberia were former slaves who had bravely freed themselves from enslaving America, and thus could claim some affinities with the US.

Today they are a sovereign State struggling to be a Nation.

America does not bother them with long laws, the way it does Zimbabwe. Why us? 

We have absolutely no links with the US: links historical, geographical, cultural, political or even ideological.

None whatsoever to justify America’s pretensions to standing in loco parentis over us, so many years into our hard-won Independence. 

Talking about our Independence, America opposed it, actively too, and sent its mercenaries from its old wars in Vietnam, Korea and elsewhere, to fight against those struggling for our Independence.

How do we feel grateful and clap hands to a meddlesome stranger from so far away for deciding to be less meddlesome this time around?

Why was she ever meddling in our affairs in the first place?

Why does she, even now?

We don’t know him, and have nothing to do with him, beyond feeling her unprovoked blows for more than two decades.

Explaining the peripatetic shift

Second and last for today, some of you my readers might know what in history is called the Platt Amendment of 1901.

Through that law, the US agreed to withdraw its troops from Cuba, and to grant Cuba its independence on very strict conditions, the breach of which would allow America to re-invade and re-occupy that small great island.

Cuba was not allowed to enter into any treaties with any foreign power without the say-so of America.

Equally, it was not allowed to host any foreign bases, again without American permission.

Why is America behaving like there is some Platt Amendment between her and Zimbabwe? 

That Zimbabwe should not pursue relations with China, Russia, Brazil, India, Iran or any other states which displease America?

A few weeks ago I drew my readers’ attention to America and EU list of strategic minerals which those two powers seek to secure world-wide, whether by treaty or by war.

Many thought I was being merely academic.

Next week I promise to tackle that factor and many others in explaining why our relations with America have taken this peripatetic shift, and what that bodes for Zimbabwe and other African nations which richly endowed with depletable resources sorely needed world-wide.

Brace up for more.

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