04.08.2020 Feature Article

Response To South African Sanctions Symposium

Response To South African Sanctions Symposium
04.08.2020 LISTEN

I read with great interest an article on IOL highlighting the submissions made at the sanctions symposium hosted by Naledi Pandor the Minister of International Relations at UNISA in November 2019.

The article outlined that at the event, Naledi Pandor, the Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi and Zimbabwe’s former Deputy Prime Minister Author Mutambara, made contributions on the issue of sanctions in Zimbabwe and how they need to be tackled.

In his comments the Zimbabwean Ambassador is said to have raised the fact that the Zimbabwean embassy is struggling to engage its citizens living in South Africa because of the lack of unity and polarization among Zimbabweans, in the neighboring country.

He went on to say that Zimbabwe needs South Africa’s assistance in reengaging with the international community, to enable the nation to access funds and markets for Zimbabwean products.

Professor Mutambara, one of the people who called for these sanctions upon the Zimbabwean people, believes that sanctions in Zimbabwe are just symptoms of a greater political problem, although he concedes that they must go because they have outstayed their usefulness.

He also advanced the argument that corruption and misgovernance in Zimbabwe, which he erroneously termed internal sanctions, must be removed first and electoral reforms effected as the region works to remove the illegal sanctions.

We then had the opportunity of watching Naledi Pandor’s opening speech, in which she identifies Zimbabwe’s problem as a governance issue linked to the political polarization that is plaguing the economy.

According to her, South Africa is willing to assist Zimbabwe, in dealing with its governance and political problems, as it also looks for ways to assist Zimbabwe to remove the sanctions. We found this position rather confusing because then why would DIRCO hold a symposium on sanctions in Zimbabwe if it feels that Zimbabwe’s problem is a governance and political one.

As the African Renaissance Project, we thought it fitting that we weigh in on these issues that have been ventilated in public media, because we are a civilian movement that is dedicated to fighting against these sanctions and imperialism in Zimbabwe and continent.

Let us start off by saying, we are grateful to SADC and in particular the South African government for the tremendous effort they have began to put into supporting Zimbabwe in fighting these illegal sanctions.

However, it must be said upfront, that this assistance in fighting against this illegal western siege (economic sanctions) upon a strategic member of SADC, comes hundreds of thousands of lives, +4mil refugees, over $50bil and 18yrs too late. So belated that now the United States has began to leverage these sanctions into destabilization, to effect their regime change agenda, as the ZDERA and Executive Order sanctions EO13469 were designed to achieve.

By the symposium failing to identify the military nature of these sanctions to spell out the military risks and threat they pose to Zimbabwe and the region as a whole, we feel that the meeting was less than satisfactory.

It is out of this lack of understanding of the threat SADC is facing, why both Naledi Pandor and Author Mutambara spoke about this economic warfare on a strategic partner in the region, as a secondary problem instead of the fulcrum of THE challenges Zimbabwe and the region are facing.

We are not going to knitpick through every point made at this meeting, but we will attend to the main areas of concern that we as a region need to focus on, to come up with a real strategy to fight this invasion upon the region.

  1. SADC is At War

It is critical that our situational analysis starts with all stakeholders in the region recognizing that the sanctions imposed upon Zimbabwe, are a foreign attack and siege upon the nation. Therefore, in line with mutual defense protocols of the SADC ORGAN, as an attack on a regional member, regional powers should have come to Zimbabwe’s rescue.

It’s unequivocal that the sanctions on Zimbabwe imposed by a US national emergency that deployed war and defense measures of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, are warfare by economic means on Zimbabwe, and those economic weapons can be escalated to military means when the US President feels the need to. So, in simple terms, Zimbabwe is at war and so is SADC.

Sadly, these are facts that escaped SADC leaders and their ORGAN military generals, hence, since this attack was initiated on Zimbabwe by united western powers as punishment for the decolonization project initiated by President R.G Mugabe. Regional partners isolated Zimbabwe and left her to face the west and white capital in the region alone, in contrast to the frontline mutual defense principles of the SADC ORGAN.

Throughout this period, regional partners benefited immensely from this attack upon a neighbor, taking in illicit capital flows built by white investors off the exploitation of the Zimbabwean people, offering the most financially endowed Zimbabweans citizenships, leaving the country drained of capital until even poor Zimbabweans followed the capital as refugees in the region.

As Zimbabwe was being diminished, some governments in the region propagated the white media narrative that Zimbabwe’s economic hardships were caused by the incompetent and corrupt leadership of Harare. By so doing they became the better blacks and stamped the notion that by taking back resources from white settlers, the Africans up north were corrupt and incapable of governing.

At no point did any of these partners acknowledge that Zimbabwe had simply brought the liberation struggle to its logical conclusion by giving back resources to their rightful owners. Neither did they denounce the breaking of international law or human rights by western powers in an attempt to stop Zimbabwe from self-determining.

  1. Soft Sanctions On The ANC

Now we have reached a point where, Namibia and South Africa are considering taking back land without compensation and radically transforming their economies. And as soon as the ANC articulated this position, it came under fire from western capital, which over the past few years imposed soft sanctions by denying SOEs in the country loans, weakening them and hampering

service delivery to the people.

It was a salvo fired to warn that government and others in the region against following Zimbabwe’s example. For good measure, ratings agencies and western lenders read the ANC government the riot act and gave it reforms like privatizing key SOEs, placing white appointees into key sectors of the public sector and purging its ranks of proponents of RET, if they are to continue lending South Africa capital.

In the process, as was done to Zimbabwe, the South African media and at times western embassies, have manufactured the narrative that the ANC government is incompetent and corrupt, hence it’s failing to manage SOEs and deliver services.

The effect of these soft sanctions and manufactured negative sentiment has seen the ANC losing a significant number of votes at the poles held earlier this year. Along with that we have seen white rightwing movements become more militant, calling for western nations to save them from a genocide as they amass weapons and prepare for a military confrontation.

This is despite the amazing work the ANC government has put into not only improving the lives of millions of previously disadvantaged South Africans and Africans, from the ravages of apartheid and neo-colonialism, but they have lifted white South Africans even more.

  1. The Persian Gulf Of Strategic Minerals

What is critical to note here is these soft sanctions woke ANC up to the reality that they are not better blacks. Hence, now that they are trying to self-determine by controlling their nation’s resources in the Persian Gulf Of Strategic Mineral Resources. The western world has sent a clear signal that they will not hesitate to attack the ANC government in the same way they did Zimbabwe or worse.

This is why now SADC is uniting against Zimbabwean sanctions because slowly the governments in the region are realizing the need to start controlling rapidly diminishing resources, instead of mortgaging them for debt. Because debt keeps African countries insolvent, under the governance of foreign ratings agencies, financial institutions and investors who are now trying to wrestle key SOEs to make governments dependent on western capital to provide for their citizen’s basic services.

In spite of the time lapse, it’s still commendable that our leaders have matured to understand that, we need to unite to fight the evil of imperialism that has plagued Africa, from US bases, France Afrique, wars for resources and sanctions as the western world works to recolonize Africa.

4. Nonetheless, as we unite and begin the fight against this neo-colonial menace. It’s important that our leaders don’t give lip service to unity or use these as a means for SADC politicians to create a cozy ivory tower for themselves, while the region is faced by a formidable threat posed by a disciplined and united adversary committed to destroying African emancipation to sustain western supremacy.

It’s a fight SADC will not win, if it’s led by insincere and aloof politicians like Author Mutambara, who seems to suggest that these economic measures that violate human rights, were at some point justified. Secondly, he incorrectly identifies the problem in Zimbabwe as a political and electoral reform issue, that is exacerbated by the symptoms of economic warfare (sanctions).

A clear misdiagnosis of the problem, which leaves any solutions coming from an ivory tower of such academics, useless and ineffective.

This is why we want to appeal to SADC, that before the body attempts to address Zimbabwe’s sanctions, the leaders of the organization and its ORGAN have to be clear about the following facts:

  1. The region is at war.

  1. It has been for 18yrs because the EO13469 sanctions upon Zimbabwe are a foreign siege and invasion on a regional power, through the use of defense and war economic weapons of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act that can be escalated into military invasion by the US President if he feels the economic weapons have not neutralized Zimbabwe as a threat to US and western interests in the region.

  1. It’s a war no different to the incursions by the apartheid South African government in the region, in the 1980s that cost the region in access of $50bil in the western sponsored destabilization of the SADC.

  1. This economic invasion which came after Zimbabwe was still recovering from the $2.8bil [4.6bil today] lost during the apartheid government destabilization of SADC, has destroyed the military capacity of Zimbabwe, law enforcement, infrastructure, institutions, social services and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. They have divided the nation, pit countryman against countryman, threatening to cause civil unrest to make way for western intervention, unless they are curbed by a concomitant regional strategy.

  1. The UN Human Rights Council, in its report on coercive economic measures, categorizes the same economic attacks as illegal unilateral coercive measures and illegal forms of aggression.

• In the same document, sanctions are defined as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation by another. A contravention of the equality of member states laid out in point 1 and 2 of the UN Charter.

• They are also said to be the use of aggression, outside UN dispute resolution processes. An infraction of the UN Charter and Vienna Convention, which every western power that is sanctioning Zimbabwe signed and ratified.

  1. More critically, the sanctions are the collective punishment of innocent civilians for political aims. This puts them in opposition to the Geneva Convention and human rights law, potentially making them crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated upon the Zimbabwean people, when considering the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been lost due to engineered deprivation of medicine, food, sanitation, social services and the displacement of millions of vulnerable citizens as refugees, into neighboring countries.

  1. Compounding this, such unilateral sanctions are not new in geopolitics, as previous EU, US congressional and executive order sanctions have been used on the continent to weaken and eventually invade nations like Libya to effect regime change and commit war crimes. It is noteworthy that DIRCO was the lead department in the South African government signing UN resolution 1973, empowering NATO to facilitate the gruesome murder of a key member of the African Union.

5. These are the key ideological positions that SADC should grapple with before they attempt to deal with these sanctions. Otherwise there is no way that SADC can effectively fight these sanctions while wearing the sanctions senders’ lenses, without seeing them for the human rights violations and terrorism they are upon the SADC community.

6. Furthermore, from what has been happening in South Africa, it’s clear that SADC leaders will come under increasing attacks from the west for standing up with Zimbabwe because the west can clearly see, unity in SADC building a bulwark around the region’s resources.

This is why; this fight cannot be undertaken only by politicians and western titled academics in ivory towers, at the exclusion of the civilians who are suffering under the weight of these sanctions.

The reason being, the sentiment war that the west is deploying against SADC liberation governments, is going to be used to paint this fight against their illegal sanctions, as an attempt by corrupt liberation movements in the region to stay in power. In the process these governments will be pitted against western sponsored activists and power hungry opposition parties, to separate these governments from their people and bring regime change, as they are attempting in Zimbabwe.

The only way to mitigate this is by politicians holding hands with civilian groups, to educate our people who are suffering under these sanctions about the devices of imperialism. That way the masses can understand the threat they face and importance of unity in fighting against these forces that are trying to destroy their legacy.

It’s a movement that requires the leadership of the people who are dying in ill-equipped hospitals, those lacking water, displaced to become refugees and straining the neighboring countries’ public services to spark xenophobia because of this economic warfare.

Moreover, it is us the civilians who have over the years been creating awareness about this warfare to the point where our businesses and persons have been blacklisted by white corporates and western embassies, while the ORGAN ignored an attack on a member state.

It’s civilians of the region who are best suited to carry the fight against this siege and invasion. Not politicians like Author Mutambara who called for the sanctions or governments who signed the resolution that killed Gaddafi after he had been subjected to the same sanctions. What the people need is support from SADC governments to educate our people about this economic warfare and how it’s affecting them.

African leaders have to start understanding that the innocent masses of the nation are the first line of defense in a nation, hence every time the Americans have planned to force regime change in any country in the last 70yrs, they first focus on turning and weaponizing the civilians of those countries while the leaders of those countries ignore their citizens.

In the SADC region we have more reason to be cautious because activist groups and political parties on the payroll of the US government, Soros Open Change foundation and others such as Vanguard, surround our governments. Therefore, it’s critical for our leaders to embrace the few civil society organizations in the region that care enough about the region not to sellout to the west.

Together we can chart a strategy to educate and awaken our citizens in the region about the imperialism that manifests in the form of US bases, destabilization for our strategic minerals, wars and sanctions.

That way we will unite the citizens and activate them to stand up and fight for our inheritance from the same western nations that have killed more than 3.1mil people in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen in wars for oil since 9/11, according to a Brown University Cost Of War Project study.

7. Polarization Among Zimbabweans

The next issue is the the Zimbabwean Ambassador lamenting the fact that Zimbabwean citizens in South Africa are so polarized and fragmented that it’s difficult for the embassy to connect with them.

It’s important that the Ambassador realizes that, the purpose of sanctions was to handicap the economic engine of Zimbabwe, destroy standards of living, divide the people and weaponize them to turn against the government and bring regime change by violent protest or insurgency.

In light of that, the Zimbabwean government has to realize that winning the minds and hearts of the Zimbabwean people, to unite the nation and stop citizens from being weaponized against the nation, is the war we have to fight as a nation if we are going to survive.

The more our people are divided, the more the west has a weapon to leverage and destabilize the country from inside. Creating conditions for western intervention or destabilization as they have done all across South America and Middle East.

This is why Harare, with the support of SADC and civil society groups, should focus on being intimate with its people who are already its biggest investors and only source of future development for our resource rich nation. This is who the government needs to focus on before trying to reengage hostile western nations that want nothing but to enslave our people and control the resources of the region.

To achieve this, the government must communicate with the people through modern techniques to show them the enemy causing their pain so that our people can heal and stand up to defend the nation.

8. Reforms

On the issue of reforms, as we pointed out above, SADC leaders, opinion makers and commentators need to be clear that the sanctions on Zimbabwe are illegal and a violation of 16mil Zimbabwean and 300mil regional human rights. SADC must therefore drive an unequivocal core message denouncing these sanctions as illegal, crimes against humanity, designed to usurp African social, economic and cultural rights.

By so doing SADC reasserts Zimbabwe’s sovereign rights, nullifying any neo-colonial demands for foreign imposed reforms and conditions attached to ending these illegal measures upon a regional partner.

Zimbabwe is not a colony of the west, so in the same way we don’t advise our daughters to reform to the demands of a rapist by opening up to rape, no self respecting leader in the region or Zimbabwe must suggest that Zimbabwe reforms to the demands of the same criminals who colonized our continent and still have not reformed to pay reparations or end racism.

9. Establishing SADC Autarky

Going forward, SADC must enforce its SADCC predecessor’s objectives of breaking dependency on white South African capital, to build black productive capacity, competencies, industry, and trade institutions that give the region autonomy from parasitic white capital.

This also means jointly launching legal challenges with GATT, international courts, tribunals and other international bodies for infringements on free trade and Millennium Development Goals by western illegal sanctions on a regional partner.

Meanwhile, serious consideration must be given to creating regional institutions to market and sell SADC products collectively in mitigation of the isolation and targeting of individual nations by western sanctions.

This is something that was done by Rhodesia, apartheid South Africa and Portuguese Mozambique bundling products together to mitigate legal UN sanctions with the support of western governments.

10. A critical question is who should be involved in the fight against sanctions? We believe SADC should rope in patriotic, Pan-Africanists who are knowledgeable about geopolitics, neo-colonialism, history and sanctions, to devise counter-hegemonic solutions to recolonization, in place of titled colonial administrators, who seek to maintain the status quo.

Arthur Mutambara

Arthur Mutambara is not fit to discuss solutions on ending sanctions in Zimbabwe because the man committed treason upon his own nation, when he called for western countries to impose sanctions upon his people, for his own selfish political ambitions and not the welfare of Zimbabwe.

By calling for foreign nations to impose economic warfare upon the people of Zimbabwe, he basically asked for innocent, vulnerable, women, children and citizens to be terrorized to force them to vote for his political party. A clear act of terrorism upon the same state and people he sought to govern.

A further illustration of his lack of empathy with those suffering under sanctions he called for, is how he trivializes this crime against humanity being perpetuated upon innocent civilians by the entire western world, as a symptom of a political problem.

How does a leader who wants to lead a people, categorize the deaths of hundreds of thousands of those innocent people and the displacement of millions of them into neighboring countries by economic war, as being similar to allegations of corruption or stereotypes of misgovernance?

Additionally, the obsession he and his MDC colleagues have with electoral reforms in a country where the economic war they called for, incapacitate the ruling party so that it can’t deliver services to the people. While its collective punishment of 16mil people, advantages MDC by forcing those who are suffering to vote for them, overthrow the government by Arab Spring type demonstrations or continue suffering. That is the definition of terrorism.

11. Zimbabwe is a nation at war, and terrorism is being exerted upon its people by sanctions, to force their choice of government. Conditions not suitable for free and fair elections, but relevant for a state of emergency, until we deal with the foreign invasion and interference that is depriving our citizens of their democratic right to freedom of choice.

The fact that Mutambara does not address the illegality of these sanctions or their violation of human rights, which is designed to force people to vote for any party other than the ruling party. Is an illustration that he lacks the moral fortitude to determine solutions for a better Zimbabwe, as all that matters to him is power and not the wellbeing of Zimbabwe or SADC.

That’s why we don’t understand why South Africa’s DIRCO or SADC would engage men who called for these sanctions upon innocent people, while excluding passionate civil activists and the civilians who are suffering under the sanctions.

12. In conclusion of this commentary, we find it unacceptable that now that the Zimbabwean government has been weakened by these sanctions, we have the same nations that abdicated the responsibility of supporting a member of the ORGAN, saying they want to assist Zimbabwe with governance to build a better country.

Zimbabwe is a partner in SADC; it’s not a province of other SADC partners. More importantly the country doesn’t need lessons in governance from any nation because governance is not the cause of Zimbabwe’s demise. In the same way, service delivery, the failure of SOEs, high crime and rape in South Africa is not because of ANC’s incompetence, as the western world would have us believe.

What Zimbabwe needs is assistance in fighting against the siege (sanctions) that the country has been under for 18yrs. This requires SADC governments to stop scoring cheap political points against their own struggle, by acknowledging that the Zimbabwean government has been handicapped by this illegal economic attack, in the same way the ANC has been struggling under the mild economic restrictions imposed by funders over the last few years.

All things being equal, the Zimbabwean government is a very capable and competent government, hence it created one of the best education, healthcare, military and law enforcement systems in Africa on a very low budget.

A result due to strategic planning and implementation that capacitated the nation by building 13 teacher training colleges that are now assisting with maths and science in South Africa, as Naledi Pandor pointed out. This was accompanied by the building of 5709 schools up from the 1879 that were built during 90yrs of colonialism, 13 research centers, 43 vocational training centers and 13 universities, from the 1 university left by Smith.

It built 13 nursing colleges, 1217 hospitals, clinics and health centers to reduce infant mortality for black children from 200/1000 to below 40/1000. For social development, it built over 1mil houses, the Hwange Power Plant, Kariba Hydro Power Plant upgrades, paid debts for the dam’s construction and paved 7000km of roads.

All this was done while paying off Rhodesian debts, buying back land from white farmers and fighting the destabilization of SADC by a nuclear powered apartheid South African government, in an effort to end apartheid by allowing MK and ANC to continue to have bases in Zimbabwe.

It is these competences of this same government, which catapulted people like Author Mutambara into robotics professors at Harvard. The same, which attracted neighbors from Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Angola and Mozambique to come into Zimbabwe for that education, healthcare, economy and safety, until sanctions were imposed and the same countries isolated Zimbabwe.

That same government was competent enough to support MK, continue leading pressure by SADC on the apartheid government to end apartheid, sending its soldiers into Mozambique to fight imperial destabilization by the apartheid government to end that war.

From a Harare meeting in 1998 where Kabila asked for support against western funded, Ugandan and Rwandan backed rebels, it galvanized Namibia, Angola, Libya, Chad and Sudan to join it in sending troops into Congo to save Congolese lives and give rise to the Sun City Accord. For these sacrifices to defend the region from imperialism, that competent government was placed under sanctions by the entire western world for threatening western interests.

So Zimbabwe, doesn’t need lessons in governance but unconditional partnership from neighbors (as it gave to SADC: MK, Congo and Mozambique) who understand that as nations in the Persian Gulf Of Mineral Resources, we are all at risk from imperialism unless we stand together.

Standing together means doing away with the “we are better blacks” syndrome and the petty politicking that says that Zimbabwe is not well governed because that is not true. No country in this region has achieved what Zimbabwe has achieved, hence Zimbabwe is the only one in the region seen as a threat to US and western economic, security and foreign policy interests to the extent of the entire western world imposing sanctions.

It is these sanctions imposed in 2001 and 2003 that saw Zimbabwe lose its currency, unemployment rocketing from 38% to over 80%, Zimbabweans being displaced into being refugees, the government failing to respond to droughts and the economy going into a tailspin.

And even under those insurmountable odds, the country is still standing where nations like Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa fell, to less aggressive sanctions for which they received support from the west.

We need our SADC partners to understand these realities and to stop reinforcing European stereotypes that blacks are incapable of governing; yet Zimbabwean skills that are being produced today, are still playing a vital role in advancing SADC.

Today, leading technology companies in the region like Botswana’s Mascom and Liquid Telecom, which is now laying fiber throughout the continent, came out of a black owned Zimbabwean company called Econet.

The cause and effect of sanctions and the challenges that Zimbabwe has is clear. It’s also clear that those sanctions are linked to the formation of MDC, its agenda to serve white commercial farmer interests and the treason it committed upon the nation.

This is why South Africa and SADC should not put a bandage on a cancerous wound by trying to force unity between politicians or push for electoral reforms on Zimbabwe, without addressing the treason being committed by parties like MDC. As an organization we are lobbying our legislators to create laws to punish treason and collusion with the enemy, as capital offenses.

And unless SADC looks at the cancer of treason and collusion with the enemy by Zimbabwean nationals, as unacceptable as it is in any other country. It will soon look like MDC members are being persecuted when we as a country begin to punish such capital offenses.

SADC must deal with root causes of Zimbabweans colluding with a foreign invasion that is being supported by defectors in the republic. We need to address this as the threat on the region, to fix the other symptoms outlined by the honorable minister.

Thank You.


Edward Mitole


The African Renaissance Project