Tendai Ruben Mbofana
With a population that has been wallowing on the verge of abject poverty – characterized by unspeakable hunger, joblessness, poor salaries, rabid exchange rate, and record-breaking inflation (leaving most basic commodities unaffordable to the majority) – one would have expected millions of Zimbabweans flooding the streets of the width and breadth of the country, in anger at these restrictive measures that they are repeatedly told are the cause of their intolerable suffering.
Who would have stayed at home – having become thoroughly fed up and enraged over their seemingly unending impoverishment at the hands at these ‘pesky Westerners’ – thereby, coming out in their droves in demanding the ‘immediate and unconditional removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe’?
Besides, has the government of Zimbabwe, with the full blessings of the ruling ZANU PF party (with their various poodles in tow) not come out guns blazing using, abusing and misusing state apparatuses – such as the public media, national platforms, as well as some institutions – in relentlessly and irritatingly regurgitating this old and tired narrative for the past two decades?
Yet, today, as I kept a close watch on the popular mood across the country, I could not help noting that – expect for small pockets of the usual suspects, who support and parrot anything and everything that the ruling establishment dreams up, no matter how ridiculous and even self-defeating – there were practically no signs of outrage, or naturally occurring protests aimed at the supposed authors of these ‘sanctions’.
Ordinary Zimbabweans chose to go about their daily business of making a living – regardless of the hardships encountered in the process, as if it were any other day – totally ignoring any attempts at brainwashing and indoctrinating them, otherwise.
What does that, then, say about Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans?
Does it not show that the ordinary man, woman and child in the street has proven too intelligent to fall for this tall tale of ‘sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe’, and understand the real reasons they are suffering under this unbearable yoke of poverty?
Let us remember that, when Zimbabweans are truly convicted at taking any action – as we witnessed in November 2017, when then tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe was being ousted by his own comrades, at gun point – they will never hesitate going onto the streets in their tens of thousands, without even the need for any active mobilization or prodding by anyone.
Yet, there were virtually no such scenes today!
Of course, for the fun-loving ones, who cannot pass up an opportunity to party – there will always be those who will not dare miss the so-called ‘Anti Sanctions Gala’ tonight – yet, not out of any genuine anti-sanctions fervor, but to dance and drink all night.
Does this not tell us, and the entire watching world, that the generality of Zimbabweans – in spite of having had enough of the miserable existence they find themselves reeling under – possess an impeccable comprehension that their leaders’ arrogant looting of national resources and mismanagement of the economy as the source of their insufferable pain?
Surely, for a nation boasting of an impressive literacy rate above the 90 percent mark – we have a population who can read what these sanctions laws enacted by countries as the US, UK, and EU truly say, as well as able to discern and detect the massive plundering of billions of dollars, at the hands of the political elite, of our God-given abundant wealth, which should have been shared equitably amongst the nation.
Who, in his or her right mind, can honestly believe that travel bans, assets freezes and an arms embargo on a handful of individuals and entities (accused of gross human rights abuses and rampant corruption) can somehow bring a country so richly endowed as Zimbabwe to its knees – leaving about 7 million of the population in extreme poverty (earning less than US$1.90 a day), whilst nearly two thirds living far below the poverty datum line?
How does freezing the ill-gotten wealth or barring transactions of these few result in the de-industrialization of an entire economy on such a phenomenal scale as witnessed over the past twenty years, with the subsequent record high unemployment levels, hyperinflation with a useless local currency, poor service delivery, and social services (such as our health care and educational facilities) dilapidated and lying in ruin?
Honestly, how does banning Anselem Sanyatwe, for instance, from using any of our local banks from doing business with an American entity – as well as punishing any offending financial institution – leave me without a job, or food in my home?
I am quite sure our banks are never short of local clients, and will never fold simply because they can be fined heftily if they do any business with Sanyatwe and his comrades!
Furthermore, with more and more Zimbabweans venturing into business, they are finally realizing for themselves that there is no trade embargo on the country – as many are now selling their wares all over the globe, including to the US, UK, and EU, without any hassles.
On the other hand, do we not witness a significant number of American, British, and European corporates investing and setting up shop in Zimbabwe – totally dismissing, with the contempt it deserves, the misleading narrative of some fear of reprisals or so-called ‘over-compliance’ by foreign enterprises.
Zimbabweans are not fools!
In fact, despite the unverified and unproven figure issued by authorities in Zimbabwe, and their unquestioning sycophants – to the effect that the country lost over US$40 billion in potential investment due to these targeted restrictive measures – all suffering Zimbabweans should be demanding to know what became of the US$25 billion earned in the past 15 years from our diamonds, or the US$1.5 billion worth of gold smuggled out of the country each year.
For argument’s sake, let us say this US$40 billion figure (clearly plucked from the air by some very creative guy within the regime) was real – would we not have easily canceled out these effects had we utilized our own resources faithfully?
As a matter of fact, all that ill-gotten wealth and assets frozen in foreign countries belongs to the people of Zimbabwe, by right- and, should never be returned to the looters named on these sanctions lists.
This is our money and property – and, needs to be given to the ordinary people of this country, not these unrepentant thieves.
I am so proud of Zimbabweans in showing the powers-that-be that we have since passed and outgrown the age of believing fairly tales – since we are fully aware who is responsible for our indescribable pain and suffering.
The people we need to hold accountable are right here in the country.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +26378889736, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org