Too many times we have heard people comparing Rhodesian sanctions to Zimbabwean sanctions.
With a general belief that Rhodesia had more stringent sanctions than Zimbabwe and that they weathered them much better than Zimbabwe is faring.
The fact is that sentiment is uninformed and a failure to understand history, the meaning of colonialism and what sanctions constitute.
How Do You Sanction A Tool?
Just as common sense, one has to wonder how Europeans could sanction [restrict or punish] an instrument. Particularly one that they created specifically to exploit an African territory that never belonged to them for the enrichment of Europe?
I ask this because Rhodesia was a commercial instrument created by the Britons, through the British South Africa Company, to enrich Britain and other European countries through the exploitation of this Southern African territory.
The people who called themselves Rhodesians basically being British subjects facilitating this looting enterprise.
Everything these Britons had in Rhodesia was derived from exploiting this African territory for the benefit of Britain and to some extents Europe.
What was theirs was just an instrument, system, administrative mechanism [a shovel so to speak] to exploit and enrich their home nation in Europe.
Rhodesia Never Existed
Therefore the nation of maDzimbabwe never was Rhodesia and it never belonged to Rhodesians.
This is why what was looted by these Europeans was externalized and stashed in Europe where they could access it in the common wealth of their nations.
With that in mind, surely it has to be clear that it was almost impossible for Europeans to sanction Rhodesia in the strictest sense of the word.
Rhodesia Supported Europe
As their survival was dependent on Rhodesian exploitation, while the Rhodesians themselves needed continuous European support to continue their exploitative work for them.
Let me put it another way. Britons otherwise known as Rhodesians constituted less than 2% of the Rhodesian population by the time of “sanctions”.
Their lives were sustained by exploiting the labor, taxes and land of the 98% maDzimbabwe population, with a great portion of what they generated being sent back to sustain Britain. It was them sustaining Britain and not the other way round.
Therefore if Rhodesians were sanctioned and they decided to live off just manufacturing, farming and mining in this territory. Selling their produce to the local market, South Africa and other African countries that didn’t have sanctions on them.
Without having to repatriate a share back to England. They would have elevated their standards of living to some of the highest levels in the world.
They might even have elevated the lives of the Africans they were impoverishing to stop them from ultimately overthrowing them in the end.
That’s why when people say Rhodesia was under punitive sanctions, it’s a misnomer when it was Rhodesia that was supporting Britain.
Additionally that logic also fails to acknowledge the simple fact that Zimbabwe exists today and Rhodesia doesn’t.
And it failed to survive precisely because of exploiting 98% of Rhodesia’s citizens [citizens of maDzimbabwe] for the unjust enrichment of Britain. Culminating in the violent removal of the establishment.
Now that we have laid down this foundation, let me now qualify my argument with the data.
- Legal Sanctions vs Illegal Imperial Sanctions
Rhodesian sanctions were imposed by the U.N, meaning they were legal because the U.N. assembly and security council are the only bodies in the world that can legally impose sanctions on a nation according to the U.N. Charter.
Rhodesia was put under sanctions by the U.N. for perpetrating a crime against humanity on the people of maDzimbabwe. This is after their unilateral Declaration of Independence from their principal.
These were unlike the illegal unilateral US and European sanctions on Zimbabwe that have not been sanctioned by the U.N.
Which are neo-colonial restrictions imposed by the same Berlin Conference cabal that imposed similar restrictions upon Africans to create tools like Rhodesia and other colonial territories to loot and exploit Africa.
This time as before, their collective restrictions and punishment are to force the Zimbabwean people to capitulate to exploitation of Zimbabwean land, resources and their labor, to enrich Europe under their own political reign.
- Byrd Amendment
During the Rhodesian sanctions, the US congress wrote a special amendment called the Byrd Amendment to circumvent the UN sanctions in Rhodesia.
This was to enable America to continue to buy minerals -which were the engine of the colonial economy- from Rhodesia to keep their companies viable.
Between 1967 and 1980 the United States bought more than 47% of their high grade chrome used in their military, automotive, aerospace, steel and chemical industries from Rhodesia. This over a period in which sanctions were supposed to have been at their tightest upon Rhodesia.
- Multi-National Companies
The biggest companies and land owners in Rhodesia controlling in access of 80% of the economy were British and American companies such as BAT, Rothmans, Lonhro, ITT Telecoms, Union Carbide, Anglo, Rio etc. These European and US companies never left Rhodesia so that they could continue exploiting maDzimbabwe on behalf of their western principals.
However, when we look at Zimbabwe, we all witnessed how many western companies like Holiday Inn, Sheraton, VISA, Coke, Schweppes, Shell, BP, Mobile, Microsoft, Paypal, BHP and many other multinational companies divested from Zimbabwe and left the moment land was returned to its rightful owners and sanctions imposed.
This to suffocate the economy and out of fear of nationalization to compensate for their colonial exploitation.
It’s always vital to understand that colonialism evolved from western countries ruling colonies politically, to their companies exploiting colonies commercially to achieve the same outcome of colonialism.
If you read the 1976 US Congress Hearings own Rhodesia. Western countries were afraid to fully enforce Rhodesians sanctions because they would result in them losing out on their mining investments.
According to the statement of the US government Deputy Assistant Secretary of The Bureau Of Commerce. He highlighted that if sanctions were fully implemented to stop Rhodesian mines from operating.
Mines in the Great Dyke and Selukwe areas would be flooded with in six months and those mines could not be resuscitated. Thereby losing the United States in access of 400 000 tonnes of high grade chrome per year, while investments of companies like Union Carbide, Anglo America and Riot Tinto would be lost in the process.
For that reason he and other experts did not recommend the US fully enforcing sanctions by divesting from Rhodesia because western investments [in this case American and British investments] would be lost.
- Agencies Busting Sanctions
Taking it a step further, companies like Rio Tinto, Anglo America and Union Carbide remained in operation. Forming resource trading agencies in Europe, particularly Switzerland to bust sanctions and transfer money out of Rhodesia into European banks.
Anglo America for example had two companies based in Switzerland called Salg and Incontra AG. While Rio Tinto Zimbabwe had Centrametall AG. All three formed to sell Rhodesian and Botswanan nickel and copper to Europe and America.
Using these entities that were established outside Rhodesian law. Metals, which were being produced by slave labor would now be sold to these three Swiss entities at a fraction of the price. From here these Swiss entities would them pass them on to other subsidiaries at a higher price in a corrupt transfer pricing arrangement.
The Rhodesian government, politicians and individuals would then get their cuts in overseas bank accounts and that money would then be accessible for future transactions outside the sanction territory.
The loser here was clearly not Rhodesia but the owners of the resources, maDzimbabwe, because that money made off their resources never came back to compensate for the resource that was lost.
To expand its monopoly and extend apartheid South African expansion of influence into Africa through its commercial power. Anglo America expanded its industries into Rhodesia as a means of import substitution and controlling value chains.
In reality a means of building a white monopoly bulkhead and market penetration into Africa with state license. This is why even when Zimbabwe got independence, unbeknown to most Zimbabweans Anglo America owned most of the manufacturing companies that were in Zimbabwe and through them policy was influenced.
- Loans For Kariba Dam
It’s through these sophisticated tactics that Rhodesia was able to continue the Kariba Dam second phase under sanctions with loans from the IMF and the mining companies that needed the electricity.
These were loans taken at the exorbitant interest rate of 5%/annum on the dollar in 44 biannual payments. For electricity that was all used by the same transfer pricing mining companies, industry and the remainder in white suburbs.
Again exorbitant commissions were paid overseas to the deal makers, and guess what, Zimbabweans are still paying off the same debt (50yrs later) for which a $115mil bond was issued in 2017 to finish off the payments to Zambia who amortized the debt.
Another very smart party trick used by the west to circumvent these sanctions. Was allowing the Rhodesian government to set up a state owned company called Univex or Rhodesian Corporation, to take over management of some key British, American and European companies.
These companies were not nationalized, but the Rhodesian government just took over managing them to remove liability for contravening sanctions from western countries.
So in essence these companies continued to be going concerns. Money would be transfer priced overseas to shareholders, while the Rhodesian government made its cut in overseas accounts.
What is interesting is how at no point did any western country take action against the Rhodesian government for these take overs of their companies.
- Many Countries Were Not Enforcing Sanctions
Over and above that countries like Switzerland, South Africa, Israel, Brazil, Jordan, Italy, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Poland and many others did not adhere to the sanctions. Hence they were used to bust sanctions by other western allies to keep propping up the Rhodesian regime and ensure that it wasn’t overthrown by the guerrillas.
All this was done to ensure a negotiated transfer of power to black majority rule, in a manner that safe guarded western investment and kept the exploitation apparatus intact.
An example is how an Italian owned company which is a division of Fiat, built the Kariba dam phase two in the midst of the so called stringent sanctions.
- Capital Purchases
During the same period Rhodesian Air bought 3 Boeing 720s through a Swiss company called Jet Aviation, all at a time no country in the world should have been selling Rhodesia machinery.
They also continued to buy arms from France, America, South Africa, Israel and even Britain to keep fighting the war to try and stop black Rhodesians from getting independence. In the process clocking up a debt of $800mil ($2.7bil in today’s terms) that the same black Zimbabweans they were fighting and exploiting are still paying off.
How was this possible if U.N. sanctions were being fully implemented?
Under the US treasury’s EO13469 regime sanctions, Zimbabwe can’t even buy riot gear because of prohibitions placed upon sales of military equipment to Zimbabwe. More critically because of restrictions placed on US and EU banks not to clear international US dollar or Euro payments made to or from Zimbabwean banks, government and companies.
- Licenses And Prohibitions
Today, any person, company or institution that trades with Zimbabwe for any amount above $50000 needs a license from the United States treasury. Otherwise they run the risk of their assets in US and partner territories being confiscated, directors arrested, being sanctioned and or prohibited from doing business in America, Europe and partner countries by what are called secondary sanctions.
Software companies like Microsoft, PayPal, Visa and many banking software companies, long closed their doors in Zimbabwe. Confining Zimbabwean businesses to using pirate or outdated software, making trading in Zimbabwe difficult and risky for most companies.
All these and other factors have obviously isolated Zimbabwe from investment in ways that Rhodesia was never isolated.
These were not the conditions that were upon companies that were trading with Rhodesia as illustrated above. In Rhodesia there was collusion by European countries, investors and financial institutions to prop up their kith and kin in Rhodesia. Support that clearly is not on offer for Zimbabwe for obvious reasons.
- Third Party Transfer Agreements
According to Third Party Transfer agreements signed by US and European companies with manufacturers in other countries. No company in the world can sell machinery, software or services that have patents, IP or input from America or western companies to countries under their sanctions.
This means even companies in China or other parts of the world are prohibited from selling any of their products that have US or European parts or IP to any other country without express approval from the westerners.
As we have shown with the buying of arms and planes, such restrictions didn’t apply on the Rhodesians sanctions.
- Subsidiary Excuse
Another issue was that Rhodesian sanctions were not enforced upon western subsidiaries by the Americans and Europeans. Which left the door open for most sanction busting to be done through western subsidiaries for western benefit. All on the premise that subsidiaries were non-US or European personas therefore out of their jurisdictions.
Under the ZDERA and executive order regime of sanctions, sanctions are not just on subsidiaries but the government, it’s ministries, companies, private companies, investors, business people, financial institutions. Additionally there are secondary sanctions upon any person, investor, company and institution that assists, facilitates or does business with any of the 144 Special Designated Nationals or those who do business with them.
Strangely, South Africa, Israel and many other countries, openly did business with Rhodesia, assisting them in the war. We even had US, Canadian and European mercenaries coming to join the war but we never saw any secondary sanctions extending to them.
However, US citizens lobbying against Zimbabweans sanctions like Turner have been arrested in recent years.
- Banking Exclusions
International partner banks never cut their relationships with Rhodesia, hence transfer pricing, payments and clearances of US dollar payments for weapons and planes still happened with ease. That’s besides the fact that as Europeans, Rhodesians had access funds, banking services, markets and suppliers in their home countries. All but 9 have cut their relationships with Zimbabwean banks, which essentially means Zimbabwe has been excluded from the global financial, banking, settlement and payment systems.
- Colonial Debt Equals Colonial Sanctions
Zimbabwe took on Rhodesian military and infrastructure development debt. Only to then incur the additional debt to build schools, hospitals, develop access to water, sanitation, electricity and roads not developed by Rhodesian governing power, in contravention of U.N Charter, Human Rights Declaration and ICESCR obligations.
In the name of reconciliation, they also took on debt to buy back land in foreign currency from white farmers in the willing buyer willing seller period. Shouldering additional costs to raise the literacy and skills of essential medical, nursing and teaching services of black Zimbabweans.
They were basically taking on the obligations of the administrators of the non-self governing colony of Rhodesia. Which costs, according to the Lancaster Agreement, should have been cancelled by the multi-lateral lending institutions in the long run.
However, those debts are not being cancelled because ZDERA prohibits US directors from approving Zimbabwean debt cancellation. A situation that has indebted Zimbabwe and suspended it from borrowing more money or accessing approved development and reconstruction loans agreed at Lancaster.
As a result, Rhodesia not paying reparations or damages to Zimbabwe for 90yrs of exploitation, dispossession and underdevelopment has left Zimbabwe in a legacy of underdevelopment and additional colonial debt sanctions.
Yet during the Rhodesian reign, they inherited no debt, stolen land; native taxes, an abundance of easy to reach resources, livestock, slave labor and no globalization competition.
Zimbabwe’s Resources Made Rhodesia.
- It’s very critical at this point to highlight to proponents of the Rhodesian argument that it was maDimbabwe resources, extracted with the enslaved and unpaid labor of our parents, the high taxes they paid, their exclusion from receiving services, their exclusion from the property, job and business markets that funded Rhodesia’s illusion of success that kept Rhodesia going for a few years. The culmination of that exploitation is the legacy of poverty and debt that we are paying for today for Rhodesian corruption.
- Rhodesia Failed
Nevertheless, after stealing our land, livestock and resources and stashing the wealth overseas without compensation or reinvestment.
Rhodesia still struggled to keep its citizens happy. Poverty stood at above 90%, black infant mortality was well above 200 babies for every 1000 born. Which means one fifth of the black babies born died of malnutrition and other poverty diseases.
On the education front, less than 32% of the country had any education above standard six. Resulting in the country having less than 1000 black graduates by 1980 after 90yrs of colonialism.
The consequence was 92% of the black workforce being consigned to menial labor on farms, in mines or white households. Enjoying no union rights, forced to work for the nation as slave labor whether they wanted to or not.
The few who were privileged were nurses, teachers, headmasters, policemen, chiefs and government administrators. It’s from this small black administrative class that we usually hear the most praise for the Rhodesian establishment.
Meanwhile in line with the Industrial Conciliation Act. The few good jobs had to be preserved for whites because Rhodesia, with all its western FDI failed to create quality jobs as any progressive economy should.
The People Revolted
Fed up with this Malthusian level of existence, young people, knowing fully well how formidable the Rhodesian army was. Took the risk of walking to Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and as far as Egypt. To train with the sole desire of overthrowing this failed Rhodesian government.
What our people never ask is, why would a generally passive and cowardly youth, go the extents of risking their lives to overthrow a government that was surviving sanctions and
serving them well?
In 1980, after 17yrs of war the Rhodesian government was defeated by young boys and girls in slippers who shared AK47s all because of their desperation to remove a regime that had exploited their parents and failed to deliver basic services to them.
On the other side, after 18yrs of direct and punitive sanctions, a century of colonial and colonial legacy sanctions preceding that. Zimbabwe is still going strong. Even though western nations and some of its own citizens are attempting to destabilize it, it’s still holding on.
The reasons being in a nation of well educated and skilled people who have opportunities to mine, farm, start businesses, facilitate deals, trade resources and make their fortune.
In a nation where people might not have jobs but they have land to grow their own food to escape hunger, unlike Rhodesia. There is too much hope for them to risk their lives starting a war.
Even with the pressure of sanctions, with a great education and skill in their arsenal, Zimbabweans can take the quality education they were given by the liberation movement to a foreign country and get a quality job. A job that will enable them to earn enough reward for them to send over $2bil every year back home to support their families, invest and mitigate the impact of sanctions on the country.
It’s all these successes of the current government that have made Zimbabwe weather these sanctions without being overthrown as to make them [sanctions] seem non-existent or trivial. Yet in reality they are some of the most punitive sanctions upon any nation in the world today.