Reconciliation Imposed by godless people
The various parties in the negotiations that led to Zimbabwe’s independence imposed the Politics of Reconciliation on the African population. It was a project conceived and developed at the level of the elite. There was no society-wide debate or involvement. Victims and survivors were not consulted, but rather watched powerlessly as many perpetrators of human rights violations went unpunished and even took on key roles within the Zimbabwean Army and secret services. As a consequence the need to forgive and forget was not internalized by the general public. Such unaddressed resentment explains in part why Mugabe’s actual “economic revolution”, aimed primarily at taking over white commercial farms, attracts a popular following. Imposed reconciliation fed, rather than eased, the unresolved grudges.
The empire has no clothe
In 1963, controversies led to a split within Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), then the main movement. A rival group, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), was set up by Ndabaningi Sithole. Robert Mugabe became its leader in 1966. Initially the split was not based on ethnic or regional differences or composition, but gradually it became significantly tribal in nature because ZANU and ZAPU campaigned and recruited in different areas – ZAPU mainly in Matabeleland, ZANU in the Shona-populated areas.
The rift deepened into serious conflict between the armed wings of the two movements – the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) linked with ZAPU whilst the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) was the armed wing of ZANU. ZIPRA and ZANLA differed in outlook, training and ideology: the former was Russian-trained, the latter Chinese trained. Fighting between them occurred in training camps in Mozambique and Zambia, in certain combat zones and, shortly after independence, in the assembly points for former guerrillas.
The issue of land reform in Zimbabwe – giving the African population back the resources that were theirs before the Anglo-Saxon invader settlers came – had long between a topic of discussion, as the minority Anglo-Saxon population owned the vast majority of farm land through the traditional acquisition of theft, plunder and murder. For the Anglo-Saxons owning the vast fertile land tracks are a crucial tool in the process of staying in power. The Lancaster House Agreement had stipulated that land transfers would take place with adequate compensation, but as Zimbabwe became deeper involved in helping Congo (Zaire) with their own war, less money was available for compensation. In 1998 the government began seizing white owned farms and compensating owners only for improvements made to the land, such as houses, but not for the land itself. Land owners refused to move and this has resulted in some cases of violence where the homeowners were forcibly removed and murders have occurred to intimidate other landowners.
Zimbabwe’s economy has grown in fits and starts since 1980, but has on the whole been relatively stable. The economic depreciation since 2000 has been rapid and has been accelerating. The sanctions currently in place against Zimbabwe are very subtle and indirect, yet devastatingly effective in bringing Zimbabwe’s economy to its knees. In 2001 the United States of America promulgated a law called the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA hereafter). That enactment empowered the US President to instruct US representatives on the multilateral lending agencies – such as the IMF, World Bank and Africa Development Bank, among others – to vote against credit facilities (in all their various forms) to Zimbabwe, until the latter improves its human rights record, observance of the rule of law, holds free and fair elections etc. ZIDERA thus introduces economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The US influence over the IMF, World Bank and Africa Development Bank, among others, is immense because of the size of its shareholding, vote and major donor status, respectively. There are many scholars that have criticised these institutions for being conduits used by the US for its international foreign policy.
Without saying it is imposing economic sanctions, the ZIDERA enactment allows the US to prevent Zimbabwe from accessing finance from certain multilateral lending institutions. This is politicking of a different bent, because declaring a US imposed sanctions on an impoverished developing African nation would be bad public relations. As one Internet poster asked: why Zimbabwe? Why not the Middle Eastern countries where women are not allowed to vote, where there is no freedom of speech, where there is torture, etc? Why not countries like Pakistan where the current President came to power through a coup? Why not Egypt where presidential elections are predetermined? Why not Uganda where there is no multiparty politics? Why not Ethiopia where elections are rigged, students detained indefinitely, where torture is rife, etc? Why not China, or Libya – the two countries currently doing roaring trade with the US and EU among others, though there is no democracy, or basic human rights observance?
From the date of its imposition, any Zimbabwe foreign currency loan application made to the IMF, World Bank, the Africa Development Bank, among others, stood to be trashed by the US, directly through its vote, or indirectly through its influence within the institutions. On the international credit markets, with its junk investment status, Zimbabwe became an untouchable, because of its loan defaults and also because of the natural consequences following the institution of ZIDERA.
It also meant that any loan application made by Zimbabwe to any multilateral or bilateral international lending agency would carry an exorbitantly high cost, if they were willing to do business at all. This economic cost is too great for most countries much less Zimbabwe. The US position, expressed through ZIDERA meant that Zimbabwe would be unable to reschedule repayments of its debts due to the multilateral lending agencies. Practically speaking, debts became due and payable. And this explains why Zimbabwe paid £120 million to the IMF, and could not reschedule its IMF debt. That is a significant cost.
Because of US and EU foreign policy, none of Zimbabwe’s international debts have been cancelled, as have those of other countries. There have been asset freezes by the EU, and it is reported that the US will also impose an asset freeze in the near future on people or companies associated with ZANU PF. Companies, whether ZANU PF associated or not, contribute to Zimbabwe’s GDP, its economic and industrial development and alleviate unemployment. The economic and social cost to Zimbabwe of these asset freezes is real.
In the absence of ZIDERA Zimbabwe would have been able to negotiate with the IMF with a view to reschedule or cancel its debt payment, or apply for more finance. On travel sanctions, prohibiting the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor from travelling to Australia, New Zealand and other countries to enter into business discussions with Zimbabweans in the Diaspora also has a negative economic impact on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s economic problem is mainly manifested through a critical foreign currency crisis.