Zimbabwe under sanctions: the inconvenient truth
The neutral observers are shocked because of our tendency to misrepresent facts only to satisfy our respective dialogical positions.
For instance, when Zimbabweans discuss our preferred economic model, or political issues, we tend to depoliticise these subjects. We strip these discussions of the politics that is inherent and discuss them as if they have no political dimensions at all.
Two types of groups push this tendency. The first group deliberately does it as a strategy of smuggling their discredited neoliberal project or ideas that are alien to the Zimbabwe situation, which of course would, if introduced, work to their benefit. The second group is simply ignorant.
Unfortunate to say, but very true, these people sometimes know very little or nothing and yet that little information or total ignorance appeals to their sensibilities.
Those from the first group know quite well that there is such a group of vulnerable people, and therefore deliberately unleash their ideological propaganda to win their support. The ignorant, therefore become gullible, not by choice but by their unfortunate sheer ignorance.
It's unfortunate if we, as a country, are going to try and build our nation based on lies and deception. Such an approach is unsustainable and is the reason why neutral or progressive elements would be shocked to see anyone ever promoting such ideas for nation building.
In fact, the interesting thing is that these very people who prey on the gullible claim to be trying to build a sustainable nation. Of course, it does not mean that the gullible consume the messages passively, but they may indeed resist or even try to make sense of the messages.
Unfortunately these messages end up appealing to many. Part of the reason these message appeal is because of the limited understanding of the much deeper fundamental ideas that inform these positions that many of the gullible do not understand. And it is this lack of understanding that these people from the first group exploit.
Concrete examples would help. Currently, we are discussing whether there are economic sanctions in Zimbabwe and yet many, especially in the opposition, deny that. The interesting thing is that while denying that there are economic sanctions, they still defend their positions using the very features that constitute economic sanctions. The trick has been that they do not provide the conceptual definition of economic sanctions, or if they do (but rarely) they give us half definitions that would not run counter to their positions.
Ironically, they will go on to blame the government for having brought the “restrictions” upon themselves. Well, firstly, in such a statement, there is acknowledgement that indeed there are economic sanctions (termed “restrictions”) because those very restrictions are economic sanctions, even if being denied. Secondly, by not defining economic sanctions, we are not shown whether these people understand what economic sanctions are.
A clear example of this strategy was used this past Tuesday in a British-based radio station which is run by Zimbabweans when the interviewees failed to give us a clear definition of economic sanctions, but went on to give us types of economic sanctions.
But there is a difference between types of economic sanctions and the definition of economic sanctions. Prominent in that debate was the way the interviewees were picking and choosing the types of sanctions that they wanted to use to argue their case against the presence of economic sanctions in Zimbabwe.
Underlying that debate on economic sanctions is the suggestion that these measures – even if we are told they are non existent – is that they are based on nothing else but good nature of the West to see a Zimbabwe that is well administered. The politics that is around Zimbabwe – such as the anger by the West against the land reforms – is totally disregarded. To argue that there are ulterior motives by the West to get involved in Zimbabwe is viewed as crazy.
The fact that the West is involved in Zimbabwe for their strategic national interests is completely taken out of the picture. The fact that the West is using the Bretton Woods institutions to apply pressure on Zimbabwe to structure the economy in the manner Zimbabweans would be disadvantaged and foreigners benefit, is underplayed or even completely dismissed. The fact that an economy that is deeply integrated into the global economy is a disadvantage to the Zimbabweans is discredited.
Instead, we are simplistically told how everything would be good if we only change the Zanu PF government. But we are not told how we are going to change the international economic system (a problem which has persisted for over 50 years), which has failed to progress on issues such as the stalled trade talks, the skewed political economy and closely linked economic injustice.
If a Zimbabwean would argue profoundly to introduce a system that would perpetuate the current skewed international order, then certainly our enemies are happy to sponsor those elements to sustain such a discourse and its attendant programmes.
On the other hand, those neutral observers and progress elements are shocked when Zimbabweans relegate themselves to destructive discourses that have affected the country for individual benefit.
The remedy of destructive elements going forth: more “individual restrictions” for the government officials. The subtext of that phrase is “more economic sanctions”!
is the ordinary people who feel the pinch and not the government officials.
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