no to sanctions campaign.jpgBy Justin Mahlahla

There comes a time in the life of every man and woman in Zimbabwe that common sense has to prevail over feeling, opinion and emotion. Sadly, common sense is not always common. I witnessed with a heavy heart the thousands of Zimbabweans who gathered at the Agricultural Show Grounds Car Park to register their solidarity with President Mugabe’s call for the immediate removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Britain, the United States and their western allies.

I got to the venue around 8:00am and saw queues of Zimbabweans – from all divides – trickling into the arena. As the day’s programme progressed, the venue had become a spectacle of thousands speaking with one voice – sanctions do kill and they should go!

It became clear to me that the majority of individuals, groups and organisations that came to attend this day were ordinary Zimbabweans who had willingly and open-mindedly chosen to come and speak with one voice against illegal sanctions imposed on their motherland. To suggest that these people were coerced or force-marched to the campaign venue would be tantamount to treason because I literally saw people walking on their own from town to the venue. Those who were bussed from outside Harare are Zanu PF supporters who travelled from as far as Gokwe and beyond to take their stand against sanctions.

The anti-sanctions campaign was a national event meant to bring everyone together. It was not, as purported by some misguided individuals, a Zanu PF event designed to garner support for President Mugabe.

The illegal sanctions – perhaps defining ‘illegal’ would help shed some light as to why we all as Zimbabweans should denounce them. The sanctions are illegal because Sanctions can only legally be imposed on countries through the United Nations Security Council. It is akin to a declaration of war. The economic sanctions that have been imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States (ZDERA) and the EU are therefore illegal. A wikileaks dispatch has revealed that Germany has always been questioning the legality of the measures, with the UK pushing for their imposition without the appropriate UN resolution.

Greece, Spain and Italy are also unsupportive of the measures as they view them as largely illegal.


Under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Security Council can take enforcement measures to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such measures range from economic and/or other sanctions not involving the use of armed force to international military action.


Britain has been on a collision course over the sanctions with these four countries and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown found it very difficult to get his way over the sanctions issue.


Non-EU countries like Russia and China have also expressed their disdain for the measures saying the situation in Zimbabwe does not pose a threat to international peace and security.

Brown tried and failed, to get the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. This means that the measures imposed by the EU and US have remained illegal under international law.


Russia and China used their veto power within the UNSC to block any sanctions against Zimbabwe.

One of the cables reveals that Brown had his “nose bloodied” over the veto and turned to the EU to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.


Another cable leaked by wikileaks also showed that the UK underestimated China’s opinion on the situation in Zimbabwe.


Former British Minister for Africa, Lord Malloch-Brown thought China would vote against Zimbabwe or at least abstain from a crucial vote on Zimbabwe.

Malloch-Brown was quoted saying: “China will likely do the right thing because it does not want another human rights fight on its hands before the Olympics.”


“Russia, however, was more problematic. President Medvedev agreed to the G-8 Summit statement that implied sanctions, but seemed to walk back from that in statements he made today,” read the cable.


China and Russia later used their veto powers to block the resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.


The sanctions have, therefore, remained illegal.

It is a pity that to this day some Zimbabweans still lack the common sense to understand that sanctions are illegal, evil, unjustified and destructive. We do not need an outsider to open our eyes so that we can see what sanctions have done to our economy, our health institutions, schools, jobs, industry, etc. some marriages have even been dissolved as a direct or indirect result of sanctions.

The problems with some Zimbabweans is that they had become used to accepting everything the British say as the gospel truth. If a British told them they were smart, they would feel smart. If a British told them they were good athletes, they would believe they were indeed good athletes. If a British told them they were nothing, they would go around acting as if they were really nothing just because it came from a white man.

Today we have the British and the Americans using every media and any other platform to tell the Zimbabwean story from their own imperialistic perspective and we have Zimbabweans, turning their faces away from the reality on the ground and accepting the lies that there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe and that there are no human rights.

The British and Americans have lied to the whole world that Zimbabwe’s economic and political problems are a result of the land reform programme. What amazes me is that there are Zimbabweans willing to embrace that lie hook line and sinker! They have taken the lie for the truth and have hated an innocent President Mugabe who only sought to empower them by making them masters of their own destinies! What could be better than being in control of the resources of one’s country? What is better that running the economy of your own country? Why is it that black Zimbabweans want to remain slaves and servants in their own country?

Is this not the reason why every country fights for its independence? If we claim to have gained political independence in 1980, does it not make sense that we should be free to run businesses, to farm and rear cattle, to manufacture and mine diamonds, to make economic policies that work for us as free citizens of Zimbabwe?

When a black man (in the form of President Mugabe) rises up and say let us empower ourselves – why should fellow black Zimbabweans, disadvantaged for that matter – fail to see the future?

President Mugabe rightly put it across when he said, during the launch of the anti-sanctions petition campaign, that even youths who failed to participate in the 2nd Chimurenga war of liberation can now take part and put pen to paper in the fight against western aggression in the form of illegal sanctions.

If the youths fail to see the bigger picture here, then I am afraid they would have sold out on their future.

Businesses that belong to Zimbabweans have crumbled under the illegal sanctions. Schools have closed. Workers have left jobs. Revenue has decreased. Hospitals have closed. The list goes on and on. Economic analysts, Dr. Tafataona Mahoso, spoke well when he said there is need for an audit of the havoc wreaked on every sector in the country – mining, agriculture, health, transport, education etc. this would prove wrong the claims that sanctions on Zimbabwe are targeted.

Those who imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe would want us to believe that the sanctions are targeted at a few individuals. Whether they are targeted or not, we need to understand that an attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us. Common sense should tell us that regardless of the flaws we may exhibit as individuals, regardless of variances in opinion, ideals and political parties, we are all Zimbabweans and that will never change. What we need as Zimbabweans is to stand together and fight any evil that may be directed at any one of us, together as a force.

Sanctions are warfare. You don’t always have to use a gun to kill people.

“The dangers posed by chemical and biological weapons, like those from rogue states and international terrorism, are often exaggerated and for the most part still merely theoretical. They have been blown out of proportion in the quest for things to be alarmed about in a relatively safe post-Cold War world. By contrast, the dangers posed to human well-being by comprehensive economic sanctions are clear, present, and sometimes devastating, yet they have often been overlooked by scholars, policymakers, and the media.

“It might help if severe economic sanctions were designated by the older label of “economic warfare.” In past wars economic embargoes caused huge numbers of deaths. Some 750,000 German civilians may have died because of the Allied naval blockade during World War I, for example, a figure that does not include embargo-related deaths in Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria or German deaths between the end of t he war and the lifting of the blockade upon the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Fewer than two million people, by comparison, have been killed by aerial bombing in all the wars of the twentieth century combined.” – John Mueller and Karl Mueller. John Mueller, Professor of Political Science at the University of Rochester. Karl Mueller, Assistant Professor of Comparative Military Studies at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

That Zimbabweans gathered on 2 March 2011 to call for the immediate removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe should therefore not be misconstrued for a political gathering.

Zimbabwe has been under illegally imposed Western sanctions since 2001 following the land reform. The gathering was in solidarity with the anti-sanctions petition campaign which ran under the theme “SANCTIONS DO KILL”.

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
– The cost of higher transport and energy expenditure due to lack of credit, restricted access to spare parts and relying on outdated machinery
– The value of lost export revenue over 11 years
– The value of lost income tax resulting from shrinkage of jobs and eroded salaries over 11 years
– The value lost through the emigration of professionals and other skilled workers to foreign jurisdictions
– The cost of environmental damage resulting from the shrinkage of power generation, power imports, and the shelving of rural electrification programmes
– The cost of induced smuggling and other corruption caused by rising costs and acute shortages of goods and services
– 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
– The cost of hyper-inflation and the collapse of the national currency which wiped out pensions, medical aid schemes, insurance policies, mortgages and savings
– 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


US and EU Sanctions
The U.S. has imposed sanctions, unilaterally or with other nations, far more frequently than any other nation in the world, or any multinational body in the world, including the United Nations. More than two-thirds of the sixty-plus sanctions cases between 1945 were initiated and maintained by the United States alone. According to the Congressional Research Service, by the end of 1997 there were 191 different sanctions being imposed by the United States.


The United States maintains broad unilateral sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Together with the United Nations, the United States also supports broad multilateral sanctions against Angola, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Yugoslavia.


Estimates of the breadth of economic sanctions vary widely. The National Association of Manufacturers claims that 42 percent of the world’s population lives in countries sanctioned by the United States.

Let us all stand against sanctions!

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.