Sunday, February 20, 2011
by Gideon Gono, RBZ Governor
WITHOUT taking away anything from those who may be excited by the prospects of travelling to Europe after almost a decade of unjustified denials, I must hasten to say that history is littered with lessons which show that no policy of appeasement and selective justice anywhere in the world has ever worked.
This is what the European Union is trying to do here by lifting sanctions on 35 Zimbabweans, including my wife Helen. It’s a backdoor admission of guilt on their part over the whole sanctions issue. It was wrong in the first place to have these illegal sanctions applied against the country in general and the so-called “select few” in particular, including children.
And if anyone out there thinks that there will be celebrations in the governor’s family arising from the recent EU gesture, then they are very wrong. What’s there to celebrate over? The day for national celebrations is April 18, and it’s not very far away.
The strategy to divide families and their countrymen is doomed to failure, now and in future. My wife doesn’t shop in London or New York. She shops here in Zimbabwe and if she needs to go abroad, there is the “Look East” policy to take care of that. China today is officially the second largest economy in the world. Why should my wife worry about London or New York?
On a more serious note, let me remind elements in the EU sanctions committee that across the Atlantic Ocean, Americans teach their children from an early age that none of them are free as long as one American is held captive or denied justice in some place or part of the world for whatever reason.
What is good for the goose must surely be good for the gander, and therein lies my attitude to the whole 'circus in town'.
Nearer home, it was former South African president and icon Nelson Mandela who refused to accept conditional freedom unless it was total and applied to all his oppressed people (then).
In my book, The Zimbabwe Casino Economy, published in December 2008, I chronicled attempts to offer me inducements and removal from sanctions if I ditched my country and President Mugabe. I asked the then US Ambassador, James McGee, to tell his bosses who were sending him “to go and hang”.
By the very same token, therefore, there will never be celebrations in my mind or family as long as there remains even one person on the illegal list of EU and American iniquitous sanctions by whatever name they or some want to call them and, thus, guess what, life goes on. It was a non-event on my Richter-scale of important developments this week.
The sanctions issue is not about Gideon Gono or his wife and friends being removed from the sanctions list, NO. It’s about Zimbabwe, about President Mugabe and what he stands for. It is also about our Vice Presidents, our Generals, our Security Chiefs, our Government Ministers, our civil and non-civil servants, our journalists, the economy and ordinary people on that list. It is about ordinary Zimbabweans who are suffering from the adverse effects of the sanctions. It is the blatant lies and one-sided judgments behind the reasons for the sanctions in the first place which matter!
As the recent Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) survey conducted in all Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces showed, over 62 percent of Zimbabweans want sanctions lifted completely. The said survey also showed that the majority of Zimbabweans do not believe in the lies that the sanctions are “targeted at the few” so-called Zanu PF sympathisers and there is even a chorus of voices from influential and well-informed business leaders in this country saying the same. They are hurting all, including those who called for them.
The issue is more fundamental than it is emotional. When President Jacob Zuma of South Africa (representing Sadc) and when the AU (representing the whole of Africa) called for the lifting of the sanctions, they did not engage in semantics of individualism. They called for the total lifting of all sanctions against Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe and the latest defiance by the EU ought to be viewed as an affront to African authorities on African affairs, and a defiance of African presidents and heads of state.
And when the views of your own African presidents, heads of state and leaders are disregarded or defied by another group of world leaders, who do you or are you supposed to side with as an African? What does that mean to the continent?
Another reason why no self-respecting Zimbabwean who is true to his ideals and convictions would not celebrate is the fact revealed by the German Ambassador to Zimbabwe who was quoted in the media as saying that his country (Germany) wants the whole regime of sanctions lifted, but EU Club rules oblige them to go by the majority vote in the 27-member bloc. The bloc works on the principle that an attack against or disagreement with one of them is an attack on or disagreement with all of them as a bloc.
With that concept in mind, it should follow that sentencing one Zimbabwean onto the sanctions list by foreign governments must constitute the sentencing of all of us onto that list regardless of individual personalities or differences. If we have problems, as we indeed do have, amongst ourselves as Zimbabweans, or as Sadc and/or Africans, are we not capable, without inviting outsiders, to settle them amongst ourselves? How many Zimbabweans have been invited to go and settle political differences in other parts of the world outside Africa or even to referee soccer matches outside the continent?
We must learn to exhaust our own African methods and structures of conflict resolution first before we export our differences to foreigners who only have permanent interests and not permanent friends, as they say! Look at what has just happened in Egypt and Tunisia. The issue of sanctions is far much broader than an individual such as Mrs Gono, Mrs Bonyongwe, Mrs Chihuri, Mrs Charamba or Mrs Sekeramayi as some simple minds would want us to believe.
In case some people have forgotten our history, it was the same struggle for our land that has always been at the centre of our struggles and it shall remain so, more so in years to come.
It began with Zimbabwe’s occupation in 1890, followed by the war in 1896/7, the repressive legislation beginning 1900s onwards till 1980 when we attained our independence, and it remained about the land in the 1980/90s, with sanctions coming in the year 2000 onwards. It is still about the land today and it will always be about the land, in Zimbabwe, in Africa and anywhere else tomorrow.
Is it not ironic that we attained independence in 1980 (compare this with 1890 when the settlers took over the country); is it a mere coincidence that landless Zimbabweans started to get agitated in 1996/7 (compare these agitations to the agitation of our forefathers that began 1896/7) and that what followed was punishment plus laws called “sanctions” which were applied to us from 2001 (and compare with repressive and confinement laws that were crafted in Rhodesia starting 1901)? Are these mere coincidences? We should open our eyes and smell the coffee.
For those who read widely, and are interested in looking for finer details in what they read, Robert F. Brunner and Sean D. Carr’s book titled The Panic of 1907 zeroes in on the Subprime Crisis of 2007 in America and the Market Crashes of 1907 and all the “07s” in between is essential reading.
As Mark Twain once said: “History may not always repeat itself, but it rhymes.” Let us be more vigilant and united as Zimbabweans in particular and Africans in general than is the case at present.
Let us try to resolve our differences internally and peacefully at all times. As President Mugabe has repeatedly said, no one has the right to spill the blood of another person for whatever reason and my view is that the current wave of violence must be unreservedly condemned and speedily as well as decisively brought to an end by the leadership of all our political parties without fear or favour.
Gideon Gono is the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. This article was originally published in the Sunday Mail