A quick summary of some of the points from recent community conversations
By Brian Manyati
Having recently commemorated the anti sanctions day on the 25th of October, 2020, with Zimbabweans joined by the rest of Africa.
The day that followed was not spared of drama. On the 26th of October, 2020, the online sources were awash with pictures of one Scott Sakupwanya a Zimbabwean based gold buyer and seller sitted before huge sums of money and gold bars with the image sharers alleging all was out of illicit deals.
The expose of one Henrietta Rushwaya midway an alleged gold smuggling scheme at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International airport the same day worsened the situation and heightened the arguments that “it is corruption” not economic sanctions a position commonly taken by the USA embassy and allies.
Using Connections2Communities (C2C) I sought to find out more on these two economic evils leading to the summarised points below which hugely are from other Zimbabweans:
1. The economic sanctions and corruption issues are attended to by and large partisanly.
2. As regards Scott Sakupwanya’s licensed gold buying and selling case others ask if it is legal in Zimbabwe to hoard or stash huge amounts of cash in homes and if that is not what is creating a parallel economy in currency exchange markets.
3. The issue of blackmailing so as to settle political scores is still rife in Zimbabwe going by what Scott Sakupwanya’s said in response to enquiring press that a cellphone of his had recently been stolen and images extracted from it post the alleged theft were now awash online as a form of evidence of some illicit gold trade going on in Zimbabwe.
Whether he is right or wrong this trend of dirty politics needs nipping in the bud early if possible as politics in Zimbabwe is capable of being clean on its own should such practices of violation of privacy and data protection rights be rooted out. Giving data obtained from unethical hacking to the general public needs challenging by us all non partisanly.
4. A view that the ruling party’s own policies are a source of demise was shared out.
5. Mining like agriculture is a cornerstone of our economy. Government should not subcontract the institutions that drive these two. But rather we should manage them for the good of the national economy to curb corruption, side marketing and porous opportunities to divert revenues. This goes against smuggling and externalisation.
A national attitude
6. We should have the right national attitude…the economic sanctions issue should not cloud the national good. If we collectively do the right things we can minimize the sanctions shock. The pervasive nature of corruption and absence of national interest across the Zimbabwean society is killing the economy.
7. So far so good that China is leading and USA and Britain are far behind even in terms of global trade influence. This to others clearly suggests that, having China in our arms “the USA and Britain imposed economic sanctions are nothing to our economy…..something just is not right within the economic system set up of Zimbabwe.
Hear no evil
8. Political interference was raised for instance the mention of a government official by another. “Minister Chinamasa on national TV was demanding reinstatement of Chitungwiza town clerk at one point in time notwithstanding the patent lack of service in the town. And our media is complicit in this…hear no evil…see no evil…so others think until we all agree on what is national good and national areas for fixing we continue down wards.”
9. Others prefer that we look East and worry less about the West, but in the process they cite potential challenges. “Notwithstanding the Chinese link global financial system is US based and a sanctioned Zimbabwe cannot escape. It’s a fact it’s an albatross around the economy…but economic sanctions are not the only thing killing us.” Others rank corruption first, poor management and visioning second and then weak social systems ahead of sanctions.
10. It also was sentimented that “we ought to look at the prices that our government pays for goods and services in its procurements…the prices are inflated way above the market prices and no one cares because the prices are designed to pay for kickbacks.” If we factor in the size of our economy it means we are losing big time as a country.
And the cost of projects that never seem to end, quality of engineering work… surely our ruling party is aware. Therefore, they argued that this regime change story that is there is not the full picture. “At some point we denied that sanctions were effective…we boasted that we didn’t care…when did we start feeling the impact?” they asked.
11. Sanctions against Zimbabwe were caused by Western governments perception of foreign policy that crossed their paths among other reasons…”The perception (reality) itself was caused by patent behaviour of national leadership… which was caused by weak social systems (read immature checks and balances) which could have been avoided had our governance system matured earlier. We all know what is right or wrong for national good.”
12. Still other contributors feel the “it is corruption” narrative is a paid or sponsored mantra to see off the “it is economic sanctions” argument. Some contributors did not even argue against the possibility of economic sanctions being there to cause regime change, rather they went on to sentiment that if we are a responsible people we would act accordingly and correct the challenges at hand that the imposers of economic sanctions argue are the reasons.
The above views mainly summarised my discourse with others on economic sanctions and corruption.
I hold a personal view on economic sanctions against Zimbabwe that they be lifted for having been unilaterally imposed by the USA and allies as a result of the land reform exercise. I have also spoken against corruption for wanting this other evil minimised or zeroed as well if possible. To an extent there is a nexus (connection) between the two, corruption can potentially increase due to economic sanctions. Our economic sanctions for now aren’t due to corruption, they are due to the land reform going by how they got gazetted/unilaterally imposed early 2000.
Negative impact of economic sanctions can be far stretching to extends of affecting ordinary lives of Zimbabweans than what’s is written on paper or recited that they are targeted. As for corruption I say let’s address it formidably without bringing it up in order to do down the economic sanctions argument.