Sanctions: Zim sees ahead of enemy
Chigumbu Warikandwa Correspondent
October is the month Africa congregates around Zimbabwe to nurse the wounds inflicted upon the country by injurious sanctions imposed by the West.
October 25 is the day the continent makes its usual visit to the patient, seeking avenues through which the sanctions can be cured.
Part of the process is to find a diplomatic avenue of persuading the West to lift its albatross off Zimbabwe’s neck.
The diplomatic avenue is, however, not the only means at its disposal.
For starters, especially the generation born after 2000, which may have a shallow understanding of the root and route of the sanctions, I will unpack in laymen’s terms how the stringent measures came to be and why.
Towards the end of the 1970s, a bitter war of liberation was raging in the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
The settler regime led by the then Prime Minister, Ian Smith, was about to capitulate.
Negotiations brokered by the British government opened at Lancaster House in London. The talks were centred on power transition from a colonial to a majority government.
Part of the bone of contention was post-war co-existence between new and former rulers and their followers.
The settler community had been in the country for 92 years and at least two generations were calling Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) home.
The idea of relocating to London or wherever they came from was a tricky subject for them.
On the other hand, Africans had a bone to grind with the settlers despite signs that they were winning the war and about to drive them out of government buildings.
The natives had their fertile land and livestock stolen from them for a whole century.
Together with that, they had lived a life of squalor where they were second and third class citizens with just a handful rights, which were far from being guaranteed.
Seeking to protect the interest of its natives settled in Zimbabwe, the Margaret Thatcher-led British government agreed to fund a land redistribution process to correct the land imbalances created by the greedy settlers.
To put it much more clearly, the settler population was less than five percent of the total national population, but that tiny population fraction had 80 percent of productive agricultural land in its hands.
This land was worked on by native labour under difficult conditions that kept them in a vicious poverty cycle. Some settler farmers conscripted labour from surrounding native communities.
The then skewed laws protected them on this outright illegality.
Following Thatcher’s departure from Downing Street, two governments later succeeded each other. Tony Blair’s government, which out of lack of integrity, dishonoured the Lancaster House agreement on land.
Meanwhile, the Robert Mugabe government in Harare had honoured the Lancaster House agreement in letter and spirit. His formative government had seats reserved for the settler community.
The settlers were not hounded out of the farms and town houses as had happened elsewhere on the continent.
Racialism and race disharmony were cured, courtesy of the hospitality of the new government.
Added to Blair’s intransigence, there were no willing land sellers as the settlers felt comfortable on the land, ignoring the pressure suffered by overcrowded people in the countryside.
Government had to make a decision.
It was time to compulsorily acquire land to strike a balance between the races. It was naturally fair and just that this process had to be undertaken.
The process of reclaiming this land had no mass murders, livestock theft, rape, forced servitude and violence as means of actuating the process as the Pioneer Column did from 1888 onwards.
It is on record that the process had some isolated incidences, brewed by natural hostilities that such a large scale operations are prone to.
Some of the accounts were exaggerated by the global media networks for obvious reasons.
Irked by the Government’s firm resolve, Western governments congregated and planned punitive action against Zimbabwe, the hope being the reversal of the land reform programme.
They sat in their parliaments and enacted laws to punish Zimbabwe.
Britain led this process and others like America followed.
Where was their interest and why America?
America has for decades led global political discourses. American leadership is driven by the British who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to dispossess natives of their sprawling continent.
So, effectively, injuring British settlers in Zimbabwe was equal to injuring their powerful cousins in Washington DC.
During the colonisation process, some of the settlers were American invitees who came to lay siege on Zimbabwe and eventually settling here.
Had Zimbabwe decided to dismiss all settlers at the dawn of independence, hoards of passengers were to head for both Heathrow and JF Kennedy international airports in Britain and the US respectively.
As a matter of common interest, other European governments congregated under the European Union umbrella and followed suit in solidarity with their neighbourhood cousins.
These sanctions lacked the blessings of the United Nations.
The UN is the sole global authority that has the mandate to certify inter-state sanctions. The UN sent a rapporteur to Harare to ascertain the alleged damage the sanctions caused, more so on the ordinary poor person.
To hide from their trick, the sanctions authors had lied to the world that these sanctions were targeted at individuals they accused of carrying out human rights violations.
They conveniently kept quiet on their interest on land.
They also conveniently forgot to sanction century-wide human rights violators who kept generations on the edges of poverty, while preying on their wealth and land.
They also “forgot” to sanction Ian Smith, who then was alive, for war crimes he committed during raids at liberation war camps such as Chimoio, Nyadzonia and Tembwe.
The UN confirmed the carnage caused by the sanctions imposed by the West on Zimbabwe.
Principally, these sanctions resulted in stunted economic growth, widespread poverty and failure by government to supply adequate social services.
The West expected the economic deterioration to ignite political unrest which would dispose the nationalist Government. Fortunately, the country’s political eyes were seeing ahead of the enemy. And here we are today.
Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!