By Justin Mahlahla
â€œThe European Union and the American government have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe? What is the main aim of these sanctions? They are meant to… weaken and remove the regime of President Robert Mugabe. Like other actions taken by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, they seek to pressure and impose a government on the people of Zimbabwe in the name of ‘democratic elections.’ (AfricanPerspective.com, Issue #51, Saturday February 3, 2002, “No Sanctions on Zimbabwe”)In 2002, the fifteen member states of the European Union decided to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.Â Sanctions are war without guns and bloodshed, and have limited, if any, effectiveness for changing behavior or governments of target countries.Â (Working Papers 1997 of the Institute For International Economics).
On the other hand, sanctions target to kill or injure infants, children, the elderly, and the chronically ill.Â (Ramsey Clark: Report to UN Security Council re: Iraq, January 26, 2000).
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 states that U.S. sanctions will remain in place against the Zimbabwean “government” [euphemism for “the people”] until the U.S. president certifies that the “rule of law has been restored in Zimbabwe, including respect for ownership and title to property… and an end to…Â lawlessness.”Â The U.S. government and its imperialist cohorts around the world are the ones who are “lawless” and defying the “rule of law” in Zimbabwe.Â The Zimbabwean government has declared that it is against the law in Zimbabwe for 1 percent of the population in Zimbabwe — i.e., white settler colonists — to own 1/2 of the arable land, while 95 percent or more of the population in Zimbabwe are impoverished and without land.
If anyone sees anything wrong in Zimbabweâ€™s efforts to redress such a glaringly ugly ratio, then God help them. They are warped and beyond repair!
It baffles the mind to find Zimbabweans, born and bred in Zimbabwe, with parents, relatives and friends in Zimbabwe, business interests (direct or indirect) in Zimbabwe â€“ in fact, their whole life is in Zimbabwe â€“ calling for the imposition of sanctions upon their own kith and kin. It is no different from calling a witch-doctor to cast a bad spell on oneâ€™s own people.
But things are not always what they seem. While those who called for sanctions and those who imposed them, including those who implemented them, seemed to be rejoicing over a crumbling Zimbabwean regime â€“ which they dubbed the â€˜Mugabe regimeâ€™ â€“ and a collapsing economy, fate and divine intervention appear to have brought in a rude awakening to Zimbabweâ€™s detractors as the sanctions regime is the one that is crumbling instead.
Perhaps it would be prudent to review the history of Zimbabwe lest we forget how British settlers killed, plundered and stole in order to position themselves where they are today in regard to Zimbabwe.
In 1891, the British government recognised the British South African Company’s “investment” in Zimbabwe, and brokered that company’s expropriation of fertile farmland from the Shona population. Supported by the military might of the British crown, the white settlers who followed Cecil Rhodes to Zimbabwe were given 3,000 acres of choice farmland, plus 15 gold-mining claims by those who had no right to give what was not theirs.
The white settlers discovered that no significant wealth would be discovered in the gold mines in Zimbabwe and, thus, were granted 6,000 acres of choice farmland by the South African Company. White settlers continued unabated in their invasion of Zimbabwe.
Cattle was seized from the native population, native lands were taken, and the indigenous people were often forcibly prevented from plowing and sewing the meager plots of soil that were left them because of tax collection and coerced labor in White-owned farms.
These historical acts of theft and plunder of African lands are the basis in Zimbabwe today for what U.S. Democratic Party members like Charles Rangels and Sheila Jackson-Lee call the “rule of law.”Â When U.S. Democratic and Republican Party members call for a “return to the rule of law” in Zimbabwe, they speak of a “rule of law” that continues to deny impoverished Zimbabweans the right to shelter and to feed themselves and their families. This “rule of law” of white settlers who killed, stole, and plundered Zimbabwe allows the ruling class to own the land and control the economy in Zimbabwe, but also is the basis for denying the Zimbabwean peasants the land, which has always been rightfully theirs.
The capitalist modes of production in nations of Europe and North America gobbled up Africa, which was fractured into colonial states and settler colonies. The economic modes of production in the colonies were determined by the economic polices of the colonising European power.Â Production in the respective colonies was determined by the colonial power and, for the most part in Africa, was agricultural production for export of goods or/and geologically determined production of raw materials from natural resources. Thus, a dialectical power-dependence relationship grew between the European colonial power and the developing African economies.
World capitalism developed in the womb of monarchal feudal states in Europe, and was personified in the rising merchant capitalist in the context of competing mercantile systems and colonial rivalries. These mercantile systems — in particular, Britain and France — subordinated the colonies to the resources of the rising capitalist classes. The older colonial powers like Spain and Portugal were more looters than producers, and were swept aside as the rising British Empire was becoming the dominant global economy.
In this world historical framework, Europe under-developed Africa. In the midst of the industrial revolution in England — which at once engendered and was engendering the capitalization of the productive forces, and the correlating proletarianisation of the peasants from the countryside to the cities to be a surplus population of destitute individuals with no means of subsistence — the conquered economies of the kingdoms of Africa were — by way of land expropriations by the conquerors– being transformed from diversified, self-sufficient economies into productive assets of the capitalist, and dependent upon the economy and commodities of capitalism.
The depopulation of Africa by the trans-Atlantic slave trade also retarded Africa’s potential for industrial development.Â By becoming dependent upon European industrial commodities — e.g., firearms, manufactured textiles and rum — the African countries objectively surrendered political power to its European coloniser.
When Zanu PF came to power in 1979 at the time of the Lancaster House Agreement, it left the land and the Zimbabwean economy in the hands of the same class that owned the lands and managed the economy prior to Zimbabwe’s independence. Of course, President Robert Mugabe, then Prime Minister, made the historic pronouncement of reconciliation and offered the whites a place in the new governmentâ€™s efforts to rebuild the war-ravaged country.
But the whites remain unrepentant. Far from focusing on becoming equal partners in the rebuilding exercise, the whites slowly regained almost total control of Zimbabweâ€™s resources, what with the British governmentâ€™s delay and subsequent refusal to compensate its own for land acquired by the new black government.
This is why restless and landless Zimbabweans started pouncing on white commercial farms, taking over operations and owning their large tracts of land. While Britain and its allies cried foul, President Robert Mugabe seized the opportunity to make legal the land seizures, in an exercise that saw over 350 000 formerly landless families now being resettled.
And that is what sparked the fire.
One hundred years after the South African Company comes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to Zimbabwe. As the economy in Zimbabwe stagnated in 1990, the government turned to the IMF and the World Bank and adopted structural adjustment plans. This has put Zimbabwe on a chaotic road downwards. During the first year of implementation of the structural adjustment plan(s), gross domestic product, which had been growing at over 4 percent a year, increased by only 1 percent in 1991. Industrial production, which had been rising nearly 6 percent per year, fell back to 2 percent.
Zimbabwe had always been a surplus maize producer with stockpiles of more than 1 million tons to tide the country over drought years.Â (Jean Duval, April 20, 2000, from the “In Defense of Marxism” website.) After implementing the structural adjustment plan(s) of the World Bank — which forced the government of Zimbabwe to sell its stockpiles of maize to make a profit so as to pay IMF and World Bank debt — Zimbabwe now has to import maize to feed its destitute population.
The IMF and World Bank structural adjustment plan(s) have precipitated food shortages in Zimbabwe, for which the ZANU-PF government is being blamed.Â These food shortages are part of the excuses used by the U.S. and EU to sanction Zimbabwe. Furthermore, the IMF and World Bank structural adjustment plan(s) devastated the economy of the South African country of Zimbabwe.
The Western world has plundered Africa, killed and enslaved its population, and have created the basis for the food crisis existing in Zimbabwe today.Â But the Western donors — including the World Bank and the IMF â€“ have cut aid to the Zimbabwean government until that government puts a halt to land seizures by landless peasants.
Western governments and media pundits blame Zimbabwe’s economic devastation on the President Robert Mugabe. According to them, Zimbabwe’s economic crisis is the result of havoc rendered on the economy by Mugabe’s misrule of the country and his mismanagement of its economy. But, more specifically, these critics of the Zimbabwean government indicate that the immediate cause of the economic crisis is land seizure by the Zimbabwean peasants.
In reality, the damages to the Zimbabwean economy are due to the structural adjustment plan(s) of the IMF and World Bank, are due to tobacco planters protesting land seizures by withholding tobacco crops at a time when the Zimbabwean economy was being crushed under the structural adjustment plan(s), and are due to the white settler farmers destroying prize farmland with the chemical atrozin, which kills crops for two to three seasons!
It now appears as if the IMF and World Bank were tools used by the west to destroy the economy of Zimbabwe well before sanctions were put in place. The chaos caused by these institutions has brought untold sufferings on the people of Zimbabwe, who are now being hoodwinked into believing that President Mugabe is their enemy.
To attribute the fate of a national economy to the decisions made by a single individual is absurd. There is no possibility that a single individual can single-handedly rule a nation of millions — all that needs be done is to kill that individual while s/he sleeps.
Indeed, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 sends the message that the U.S. government is at war with the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe. Rangels and Jackson-Lee have sent a message to the people of Zimbabwe that they have absolutely no respect for the laws of Zimbabwe. The U.S. government, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the Congressional Black Caucus support lawless white settlers’ defiance of Zimbabwe’s laws regarding redistribution of land in Zimbabwe.
This is the evil that has wreacked havoc on Zimbabweans – young, old, educated, illiterate, employed, businessperson etc.
The cost of sanctions to Zimbabwe should be viewed in terms of :
– The cost to the whole economy of having to pay cash-up-front for imports over 11 years.
-Â The cost of higher transport and energy expenditure due to lack of credit, restricted access to spare parts and relying on outdated machinery.
-Â The value of lost export revenue over 11 years.
-Â The value of lost income tax resulting from shrinkage of jobs and eroded salaries over 11 years.
-Â The value lost through the emigration of professionals and other skilled workers to foreign jurisdictions.
-Â The cost of environmental damage resulting from the shrinkage of power generation, power imports, and the shelving of rural electrification programmes.
-Â The cost of induced smuggling and other corruption caused by rising costs and acute shortages of goods and services.
-Â Health costs arising from the collapse of infrastructure, the rising prevalence of eradicable diseases, the failure to repair or replace water and sewerage systems and inability to import medical equipment and drugs.
-Â The cost of hyper-inflation and the collapse of the national currency which wiped out pensions, medical aid schemes, insurance policies, mortgages and savings.
-Â The cost, in business terms, of the propaganda war which was mounted by the Anglo-Saxon countries and their sponsored lobbies and parties to justify and maintain illegal sanctions.
Land Reform Is Justifiable and Long Overdue (2002 Zimbabwe Fact-Finding Mission, led by Elombe Brath of Harlem, New York).
The Minister of Agricultural of the National Land Acquisition Committee in Zimbabwe states that in the tradition of Zimbabwe the land does not belong to any man, but to God and is managed and administered for the good and in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe. “[Speaking in the language of the West, land is not a commodity to be bought and sold.” (Taken from the video produced by Ron Wilkins of Los Angeles, California for the 2002 Zimbabwe Fact-Finding Mission.)Â The Minister of Agriculture in Zimbabwe continues: “[W]e want the landholding part of Zimbabwe to reflect the population of Zimbabwe.”
In fact, the land seizures in Zimbabwe have not gone far enough, and have come late.
Zanu PF was fully aware that a land revolution was imminent. There is absolutely no illusion that that which was agreed upon at Lancaster would come back to haunt the party. It was only a question of time.
Real independence requires expropriation of the productive forces. After the independence struggles of Africa in the ’50s and ’60s, the ruling “Black” governments govern in name only.Â The real government of most of these independent nation states is based in the hands of the dominant economic class, and not in the hands of the “people of Africa.” The poverty of recently independent African nation-states from the overt political shackles of colonialism is due to persistent economic control of those economies by the same economic masters in a neo-colonialist system. Colonialism and neo-colonialism could not and would not have happened — nor could it continue — without the collaboration of “Quislings” in the colonial or/and neo-colonial countries.
The food shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe have been engendered by the economic policies of Britain and the U.S. as concretised in the structural adjustment plan(s) of the IMF and World Bank. Additionally, the crisis has been exacerbated by the economic policies of Zimbabwean capitalists — especially the tobacco capitalists who withheld or/and destroyed critical tobacco crops — the neo-colonial Black bourgeoisie, and the Zanu PF government.
However, the economic struggle can become a political struggle that leads to state power. The urban working-class in Zimbabwe have since moved from the purely economic struggle (strike) against rising taxes and fuel prices to a movement for the economical emancipation of the proletariat by — following the example of the peasant land seizures — expropriating the industrial capitalists in Zimbabwe.
The proletariat in Zimbabwe must seize industry, and the mine workers must seize the mines. The tone has already been set by President Robert Mugabe who said at the 2010 Zanu PF National Peopleâ€™s Conference that time has now come for Zimbabweans to take over mines and British-owned companies that are not benefitting the Zimbabwean economy.
The President also made a very bold statement to the effect that sanctions should be imposed on British conglomerates that continually operate in the country but never call for sanctions to be lifted.
He reiterated his call at the just-held 21st February Movement celebrations held in Harare that such companies should face the full wrath of equally powerful and effective sanctions from the Zimbabwean government.
The Anti-Sanctions Petition Campaign is just but the tip of the iceberg. Yes, it is time, to borrow from the Presidentâ€™s own words, to walk the talk!
Zimbabweans should speak with one voice in calling a spade a spade. Sanctions are not targeted. They are meant to effect regime change in Zimbabwe by crippling the economy and causing revolts.
Zimbabweans should not bow to the whims of the Europeans. United we stand and united against sanctions we shall be the last man standing!