The United States recently renewed its sanctions on Zimbabwe. US President Donald Trump was quoted as saying that the new government's policies continue to pose an "unusual and extraordinary" threat to the American foreign policy. What is this rather "unusual and extraordinary" threat that other countries do not pose?
This is despite repeated calls by other African leaders, led by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to drop the sanctions. The US has also paid a deaf ear to calls from Zimbabwe businessmen, and the country’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa that the sanctions are hurting business.
The agenda of the sanctions have been made clear, Zimbabwe poses a threat to United States foreign policy. It is not about the Zimbabwean people and democracy. The United States says that the Zimbabwean government should repeal laws that govern the media and ban protests.
You would be fooled to think that the Americans care about these issues. You have to look at how they handle their foreign policy with gross abusers of human rights such as Saudi Arabia. Why are they not putting the same amount of pressure on the Saudi Crown which is responsible for stamping down media, the regime responsible for the MURDER of a journalist?
What Zimbabwe poses as a threat is a fact that it is pursuing to be a leader in the acquisition of economic independence. This has to be traced back to the land reform program in the early 2000s. Robert Mugabe was intent on empowering the locals. He understood that real power did not lie in the office jobs that his people now had access to. The real power lies in the hands of the man who controls the resources.
What if Zimbabwe had realised her dream of a black man who is in control of not only political power but a black man wielding economic power? It would have been a big threat to a foreign policy that relies on looting African resources and paying bottom dollar for them.
Zimbabwe has had to pay for being a visionary nation. The success of the economic vision Robert Mugabe had would have set Africa on fire. Other African countries have started to seriously consider following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe.
After more than 20 years of independence, the land debate has started to take centre stage in South Africa. The United States could not have been more irked by this huge step South Africa is taking.
On 22 August 2018, US President Donald Trump tweeted that farms were being grabbed and whites being killed in South Africa, a tactic to sow discord and a reflection of how misinformed the US policy on Africa is. The agenda of the tweet was, of course, to also sow seeds of fear in the hearts of a people determined to take control of their destiny.
Africa has all shades of an unequal society visible. Most blacks still remain largely marginalised from key economic activities. For instance, the diamond trade in South Africa is controlled by Anglo-American, which bought DeBeers after almost a century of Oppenheimer control. The blacks in South Africa can gain through Black Economic Empowerment schemes that give the illusion of ownership. Black Empowerment has also been given a few poster boys to give Africans the illusion that they too can make it to the table and eat with the master, but the ceiling is hard to crack.
Zimbabwe was trying to address the problem of black marginalisation in capital ownership until recently. A step most African have hesitated to take, it is the success of such policies that pose a threat to American foreign policy, a nation which hungers for control. Zimbabwe had learnt the lesson when there was the capital flight of the 2000s, they realised that real power lies in controlling the capital, controlling the direction of the company.
One of the critical elements of the Sustainable Development Goals is being able to have inclusive growth. Inclusive growth is not possible if some sections of society continue to marginalised. How can Zimbabwe grow if it continues to suffer because of the sanctions? How can Zimbabwe grow if it cannot be able to facilitate its international transactions? If the national institutions such as the country’s largest manufacturer of fertiliser, a critical enterprise in an agro-based economy, are blacklisted and cannot do international business.
The fight for economic freedom will not be easy. It will come at a cost. Just like the fight against colonial administrations, the fight requires a united Africa to fight on all fronts. Sanctions are there to instill fear and restraint in those who choose to follow the path of freedom, those who are fighting to take the fight for Africa a step further. The "unusual and extraordinary" that Zimbabwe poses is that of a people emancipated and in control. It is the same crime that Iran is accused of, refusing to bow down to white capital, the reason why Muammar Gaddafi was assassinated.
One of the things that remain admirable is the sheer determination with which Robert Mugabe held on to the fight. Sanctions did not hold him back in any way, in fact, he escalated the fight in his later years as he worked towards the vision of a fully emancipated Africa. May we have found an equally determined figure for the fight of a free Africa in Julius Malema?
What is certain that once Zimbabwe’s lead and courage become successful, it will signal a revolution on the continent, this is the "unusual and extraordinary threat" which is being referred to.
Image Credits: Insider Zim