Saturday, October 03, 2009


This is a rare personal post on this blog, however, I need to get this out of my system. Having watched the lamest excuse for an interview in Christiane Amanpour's self-titled show, what was left of my respect for CNN has sunk to a new low.

How can anyone call themselves an interviewer, when they are 1) completely unprepared, 2) unwilling or unable to listen to the answers and formulate an intellingent follow-up, 3) instead of formulating an intelligent follow-up, simply hurl more accusations, even before the previous question has been answered. I think they managed to tick off even Mugabe opponents. And the facts are pretty easy to find.

For instance.

1) There are no financial sanctions against Zimbabwe

This is so easily disprovable that it is laughable. Economic/financial sanctions are a matter of record. To quote from the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, Section 4C titled Multilateral Financing Restriction (Multilateral Financing is the type of banking done between governments and the banks that usually lend or extend credit to governments):

Text of S. 494 [107th]: Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001

... the Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against--

(1) any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or

(2) any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.

So what are these international financial institutions, where the Zimbabwean government's credit has been frozen, and loans and guarantees withheld, since early 2002? Well that is covered in Section 3 of ZDERA, titled "DEFINITIONS":


In this Act:

(1) INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS- The term `international financial institutions' means the
multilateral development banks and the
International Monetary Fund.

(2) MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS- The term `multilateral development banks' means the
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the
International Development Association, the
International Finance Corporation, the
Inter-American Development Bank, the
Asian Development Bank, the
Inter-American Investment Corporation, the
African Development Bank, the
African Development Fund, the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the
Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency.

The Effect Of Sanctions

These are the institutions the Zimbabwean government held most of it's credit lines with. These credit lines were frozen in early 2002. We all know the result of a credit freeze on the United States, a country with infinitely more resources than a Texas sized former colony with a neocolonial economy that depends on exports of raw materials and imports of finished goods and fuel. So what were the effects? Well in the year 2002, Zimbabwe recorded it's first ever (considering data from 2000 to 2007) trade deficit. This is the same year consumer prices went into triple digits. And Agricultural GDP growth rate made it's biggest drop before or since. Not a coincidence.

FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Zimbabwe, 5 June 2007
Table 1: Zimbabwe - Key economic indicators, 2000–2007
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 exp
Agricultural GDP growth rate (%) 3.2 -3.9 -22.7 -1 -2.9 -9.5 -4 --
Consumer price inflation; avg (%) 57 75 135 385 381 267 1034 2200a
Trade Deficit in million US$ -295.6 -322.5 18.2 108.3 305.2 387.9 231.3 200b

Not only is this an indication that 'something happened in 2002', and that this something is ZDERA coming into force and freezing the government's credit lines.

There is also confirmation that the MDC itself cannot govern while ZDERA is still in place, as stated in no uncertain terms by the MDC's Finance Minister (human rights lawyer) Tendai Biti, in this interview he did with Southwest Radio Africa.

2) Whites farming on stolen land is compensation enough

This should raise the heckles of even the most ardent MDC supporter. The entire issue of compensation has been of compensation paid not to black Zimbabweans, but to white farmers. Under the Lancaster House Agreement's Willing Buyer, Willing Seller program, the British and US governments were to compensate the white farmers for the value of the land (also called 'land purchase'), while the Zimbabwean government was to compensate them for the value of changes made, like infrastructure, buildings, etc. So her complete unawareness of any land reform program is pretty ridiculous.

3) Her complete unawareness of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, the Lancaster House Constitution, and even the Willing Buyer, Willing Seller land reform programme

Christiane Amanpour seemed stunned that land reform was even on the table, even though it was much of what the Liberation war was fought over, and was included in the Lancaster House Agreement through the Willing Buyer, Willing Seller (WBWS) land reform program, back in 1979/1980.

Under WBWS, the Zimbabwean government would compensate the white farmers for the value of buildings and improvements made to the land, and the British and US governments would compensate white farmers for the market value of the land, also called land purchase.

They almost immediately reneged on their obligations, but together with intervention by regional leaders, land reform was held off until 1997. It was in November 1997, that Claire Short Secretary of State in Tony Blair's government to Minister of Lands Kumbirai Kangai:

I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers.

(Source: Zimbabwe: The Spark...Claire Short's letter of November 1997
by Baffour Ankomah
March 31, 2003)

Now unless I am mistaken, when one side of an international agreement pulls out of that international agreement, the other side is no longer obligated to abide by that agreement. So when it is Britain's obligation to fund land purchase, and they state they 'no longer feel' that it is their obligation to do so, not only does that relieve the Zimbabwean government from abiding by the Willing Buyer, Willing Seller land reform program, it possibly also puts an end to the Lancaster House Agreement, which the Zimbabwean government abided by throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s.

There is no proof that anything the government did under the new land reform program, the Fast Track land reform program, was illegal. They were not obligated to compensate white farmers under their own program. You could easily argue that white farmers had been compensated enough, with a century's uses of free land and free labor. The average white farmer had 500 hectares of tobacco under cultivation, and 2000 hectares of idle land. At the same time, the 99% of the population that is African, had been forcibly removed to the low rainfall areas of the country.

4) Her generally condescending attitude

Now condescension is one thing. However, you cannot condescend when you have no grasp of the facts, and on top of that, are consistently wrong about what you believe. Her dismissal of the existence of economic sanctions is a case in point. It made her look, correctly, as someone who has made up her mind and is not interested in such things as facts.

However, her assertion that "archbishop Desmond Tutu is a liberation fighter too" was laugh out loud funny. Can you squint your eyes, and imagine Desmond Tutu as a paid up member of MK? Codename: "The Bishop". 'Some people say' he stashed C4 explosives in his staff and handed them out to his priests to blow up congregations, back in the day. He isn't even a member of the ANC. Enough said.

She made the rather infantile claim along the line that "you were given a beautiful country and look what you did with it", which is mindboggling.

I would rate her interview: F. Next time, do your homework, Christiane.

For further reading and viewing:

# Transcripts of the interview

Transcript of the interview at CNN and at

# The interview on Youtube

Robert Mugabe G20 Amanpour CNN, Part 1 and Part 2

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At 9:10 PM , Blogger Cho said...

I watched that interview. I though she was not well prepared. I scored it a draw :)

She had no idea what was in ZDERA. She confused it with the EU travel sanctions.

At 10:15 PM , Blogger MrK said...

The MDC line has been all along that 'there are no economic sanctions', only 'individual travel restrictions', etc.

She spouted the MDC line, but so has CNN/BBC/etc. done for the last 8 years.

In fact, the BBC only has a single article about ZDERA, which was when it was introduced. No explanation, no review of the impact, just a declaration, and nothing more before or since.

You would almost thing they want the world to be misinformed about Zimbabwe.

At 5:56 PM , Blogger MrK said...

On NewZimbabwe Blogs:

How Mugabe outfoxed Amanpoor
Posted By Gilbert Nyambabvu
on 25 Sep, 2009 at 1:15 pm

At 3:34 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Biti calls for lifting of sanctions
Nyasha Marimbe
Thu, 29 Oct 2009 14:37:00 +0000

FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti has called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe, breaking ranks with his party's top leadership that refers to them as "restrictive measures".

A report in the Herald newspaper says Biti authored a document entitled "Debt and Arrears Clearance Strategy" in which he advocates the lifting of the illegal sanctions that the West imposed on Zimbabwe.

In the document Biti is said to identify the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) — as a major outstanding issue which must be addressed before the economy can develop.

"He, however, abrogates the MDC-T of the duty to lead the anti-sanctions lobby that he says should be led by a group of 'Elders' like ex-US president Jimmy Carter and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan," says the daily newspaper.

Biti said his proposed thrust would only work if sanctions were busted.

"This strategy will be complemented by the need to repeal the Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Act (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act) of 2001, through lobbying for support for Zimbabwe’s position in the USA Congress and Senate.

"This could be done by Government approaching such former US Presidents like Jim Carter and Bill Clinton using other luminaries such as J(ohn) Kuffour (Ghana), K(enneth) Kaunda (Zambia) and (J)oaquim Chissano (Mozambique) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"This should be seen within the context of the Government’s overall strategy of busting sanctions through engaging the European Union, the Commonwealth and the USA," said Biti.

Biti yesterday confirmed that he had presented the document to Cabinet and he becomes the second senior MDC-T member to admit to the reality of sanctions.

Early this month, co-Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa told a meeting of his colleagues and police chiefs at an Interpol conference that illegal sanctions had negatively affected the economy and the Zimbabwe Republic Police had not been spared.

At 8:33 PM , Blogger MrK said...

MDC-T calls for sanctions removal
23/12/2009 00:00:00

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party has stepped up calls for the lifting of international sanctions on up to 40 Zimbabwean companies, but stopped short of asking for the removal of a travel ban on allies of President Robert Mugabe.

The party has previously resisted demands by Mugabe's Zanu PF party to speak out against the western sanctions. Tsvangirai, who formed a unity government with Mugabe in February, has gone only as far as calling the sanctions "restrictive measures".

But after the powerful Finance Minister Tendai Biti, also the secretary general of the MDC-T, said the sanctions were "unhelpful" on a visit to England last week, a more direct call for their removal has come from the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Gorden Moyo.

The volte-face comes as parties in the unity government reached agreement early in the week on the composition of statutory bodies to oversee the media, human rights and elections.

Moyo told a meeting of the Bulawayo Agenda that the MDC-T is now actively lobbying for the removal of some 40 companies from the list of individuals and organisations slapped with sanctions by Western countries -- led by Britain and the United States.

Moyo, who has previously denied Zimbabwe is under sanctions, said:

"We are engaging the European Union as the government of Zimbabwe. Our engagements are in many facets, including that of the lifting of sanctions imposed on about 40 companies prior to the establishment of this (inclusive) government."

“All we are saying is that while we appreciate that these companies played a bigger role in sustaining Mugabe's government, there is need now to review the situation and see what can be done to help save these companies from imminent collapse."

Companies targeted under the sanctions include parastatals such as the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO), the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) and financial institutions such as the Zimbabwe Financial Holdings.

The United States government also stated in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 that it would use its more than considerable influence in multi-lateral institutions such as the IMF and World Bank to stop the provision of assistance to Zimbabwe while US companies were barred from any commercial relations with the country.

The sanctions are one of the major sticking points holding back full in implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) with President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party refusing to make concessions to the MDC formations until the restrictions are removed.

Zanu PF, which claims the sanctions were as an act of retribution by western countries over the land reform programme, accuses the MDC formations of campaigning for their imposition and says the opposition parties should now call for their removal.

For its part the MDC-T denies the allegations but appears to be in two minds over how to proceed over the issue.

On the one hand the party wants the sanctions to remain in place as a bargaining tool and some kind of insurance policy in the ongoing talks with Zanu PF while at the same time senior figures like Secretary General and Finance Minister, Tendai Biti are frustrated by their adverse impact on efforts to revive the economy.

Meanwhile Moyo’s announcement that MDC-T is now calling for partial lifting of some of the sanctions, particularly those targeting state-owned companies, is unlikely to cheer its Zanu PF rivals who want to whole raft of measures including those against senior party figures removed.

Zanu PF’s national congress which was held early in the month ordered its negotiators not to move an inch in the ongoing talks with the MDC formations over full implementation of the GPA until the sanctions were removed.


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