Wednesday, January 08, 2014

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE) Sanctions: Righteousness or racist repertoire?
07/01/2014 00:00:00
by Bernard Bwoni

COMMENT - The reason why the MDC/US/UK governments have to claim high and low that a) there are no economic sanctions and/or b) there are sanctions, but they are not 'economic', just 'targeted' 'personal' sanctions, is that unlike the ANC, the MDC is not a popular movement. The ANC never had to hide or run away from the fact they wanted sanctions against Apartheid South Africa. The MDC is not a liberation movement, they work for De Beers. - MrK

THERE has been an intentional and dishonest narrative that Zimbabwe was under “targeted sanctions” and “travel bans” which target President Mugabe and his “cronies” and these distortions have deliberately misled the world over the plight of this nation. The existence of economic sanctions has been casually brushed off while the architects of the sanctions have not been sincere or morally upright to the suffering that befell the general populace in Zimbabwe. The unbearable hardships were blamed solely on the land reform programme and it seems convenient to justify such ruinous sanctions and disguise the real intention behind why they were inflicted in the first place.

The economic impact of the sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy must never be understated. They have been devastating to the most vulnerable groups in society who have had to bear the full brunt of it and have seen their livelihoods reduced to absolute destitution. There have been comparative arguments of the sanctions placed on Rhodesia and the Zimbabwe economic sanctions and what emerges is a racist repertoire which is inextricably imbedded and blended with a long term neoliberal grand master-plan. Sanctions do not discriminate between the elite or the general population and they are used as an economic warfare against target governments. The purpose of economic sanctions is to coerce the intended victim into submission through deliberate sabotage of the economy hence the term economic sanctions.

The sanctions against Rhodesia created social and political integration due to the fact that the Ian Smith regime was given more than enough time to prepare for them. On the other hand for Zimbabwe, the sanctions created socio-economic and political upheaval and disintegration because the country was slapped with instant economic sanctions which saw the economic meltdown, the strengthening of spurious opposition politics and the privation and distress caused by the hard-hitting effects of the sanctions. Unlike Zimbabwe, Rhodesia had a very strong historical and birthright identification with those who were imposing the sanctions and had ideological allies who had a vested interest in ensuring that the regime stayed intact and hence they did not approve the sanctions. Rhodesian sanctions were at most symbolic whereas those against Zimbabwe were full-blown economic sanctions imposed indiscriminately and abruptly with the resultant immediate economic collapse that followed.

The nature of the sanctions against Rhodesia highlights a protective approach to imposing the sanctions in that the Smith regime was given enough warning of the impending threat, ample time to prepare and harness collective national spirit. Johan Galtung wrote an article in 1966(On the Effects of International Economic Sanctions: With Examples from the Case of Rhodesia) hypothesising the likely impact of the sanctions long before they were imposed. The Rhodesians were warned and prepped for well in advance and in and around the towns and cities Galtung pointed out that there were even jokes like “there will be no sanctions against drinks” - ridiculing the sanctions way before they came into effect.

Zimbabwe on the other hand was not threatened with sanctions; they were imposed with very little if any warning at all. It is disingenuous that the architects of these hardship-inducing sanctions claim that Mugabe and his “cronies” blame the sanctions as a way of diverting attention from the country’s politics and internal mismanagement yet they could so easily lift the sanctions completely and see if the mismanagement prevails in a sanctions-free economic environment and uplift the lives of those they falsely claim to be championing for by imposition of these sanctions.

Again the sanctions against Rhodesia did not work because some countries such as South Africa, Portugal, Israel and some Arab nations propped up the Smith regime. Rhodesia also found ways of circumventing the sanctions as imports and exports were smuggled through South Africa. The Zimbabwe sanctions on the other hand were devastating to the economy. Hufbauer and Schott, 1990 (Economic Sanctions Reconsidered: History and Current Policy) calculate that the annual cost of economic sanctions to Rhodesia was just $130 million per year. In a study titled ‘Economic Sanctions’ prepared for the Harvard Centre for International Affairs, Robin Renwick, head of the Rhodesian department of the British Foreign Office, reported that between 1965 and 1974 Rhodesia's real output increased 6 percent per year; the value of exports more than doubled between 1968 and 1974 and continued to rise afterward, although much more slowly.

On the other hand the sanctions against Zimbabwe have cost the country in excess of $42 billion since 2001 which translates to a staggering $3.5 billion annually! The negative publicity Zimbabwe and its leadership received meant a very negative national image which attracted high-risk premium on alternative sources of offshore lines of credit and had a detrimental effect on tourism which is significant to national GDP (Taking back the economy: Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment). The interruption of trade and constraints on manufacturing and general activities saw GDP almost halving from US$7.49 billion in 2000 to US$4 billion in 2010.

Sanctions against Rhodesia were devised and implemented in a manner to publicly appear to punish yet privately there was a collective kindredship to preserve and protect. At most the sanctions were a symbolic gesture to appear to condemn the racist Ian Smith regime so as to pacify the international community. On the other hand sanctions against Zimbabwe were specifically designed to hurt without due care and attention to the suffering of the ordinary poor people. Rhodesia was placed under sanctions but safeguarded from the privation synonymous with sanctions while Zimbabwe was deliberately exposed to hardship.

The Zimbabwe government’s incessant cries over the devastating effects of these merciless sanctions were drowned in the devious world of media duplicity and the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe was relegated to the entertainment sections of media sources. Some lives are more important than others, the nature of the world Africa finds itself at the bottom end of.

Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on



Monday, January 06, 2014

(STICKY) (NEWZIMBABWE) Land reform can transform livelihoods
05/01/2014 00:00:00
by Bernard Bwoni

THAT the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) has reduced Zimbabwe from the breadbasket to the basket-case of Africa is the crude economic caricature synonymous with most media headlines worldwide since the inception of this large scale agrarian restructuring revolution in Zimbabwe. The same critics have argued that the partitioning of large scale estates into small holdings has had a negative impact on the ability of the country to feed its population which has resulted in food insecurity and an over-reliance on imports from neighboring countries. That is the gloomy economic picture that is painted and it is attributed to the country’s land reform programme.

The only way of correcting this economic distortion is through a thorough understanding of the realities on the ground without emotive and self-indulgent tendencies. The existence of an inverse relationship between farm size and farm productivity has been observed by agricultural and development economists for a long time. Small-holder farmers face lower opportunity costs of labour than large, commercial farms. Spread nationally, smallholder agricultural economic activity creates more employment and improves livelihoods than the large-scale commercial farms because the activity is strategically and economically integrated within the highly populated rural areas which means the multiplier effects would be substantial. Hence it is important to analyse the FTLRP on the balance of its intended long-term outcomes.

Feder(The relation between farm size and farm productivity : The role of family labour, supervision and credit constraints) clearly explores this relationship between farm size and productivity and the argument is that if labour market imperfections inevitably render smallholder farmers more productive, then it might follow that land redistribution can stimulate agricultural productivity and economic growth. There is no argument that subsistence peasantry should be viewed for its short-term foundational base, however there is sufficient literature to indicate that smallholder agriculture that is labour intensive, given the right amount of support is equally efficient to the economic transformation of small and middle income countries.

The Zimbabwean agrarian sector was dominated by large scale farms prior to and soon after independence and in as much as it produced significant growth its impact on livelihoods and employment creation was not as effective as post land reform. In earnest it only fostered a culture of dependence, ingrained inequalities and only allowed the extension of a class that was perpetually deprived economically. With the FTLRP there has been a paradigm shift in the traditional role of smallholder agriculture as a platform for the country’s economic transformation. A case in point is the resettled poultry farmers at the Central Estate Farm near Mvuma. Their projects have generated substantial income and contributed to the development of the community through creation of employment for the residents of Mvuma and multiplier effects in the surrounding areas.

The Zimbabwe government is playing its role in enabling smallholder farmers to increase their access to the various areas of market engagement. The FTLRP has seen the emergence of a smallholder agriculture sector that contributes to the national economy through employment creation, production of surplus and improving earnings of the farmers and the farm workers. The process has also engendered more employment along the value chain and providers like traders, transporters, retailers, processors and others have directly and indirectly benefitted. There is an emerging flourishing new middle-class which is evenly spread throughout the country with indicators showing a positive coefficient in the gross domestic product, employment and improved livelihoods. This has had a positive impact on some newly resettled farmers in Zimbabwe in terms of better nutrition and enhanced household earnings. The downside is that there has been a temporary dislocation in terms of food security as a significant number of the newly resettled smallholder farmers have concentrated on cash crops, in particular the lucrative tobacco farming which has seen food crop production decline considerably. Equally significant in this regard are the persistent droughts that continue to affect the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe.

Researchers have pointed to the successful Green Revolution in Asia where an agriculture-led growth model has played a crucial role in the economic transformation and in poverty reduction. Similarly in Zimbabwe it is important to note that agriculture and agriculture-related activities provide most of the employment in the country and that the sector accounts for 20% of the gross domestic product. Although Zimbabwe has an enhanced mining sector, the industrial and manufacturing base is currently severely curtailed and with two-fold competition from the developed world and the emerging large economies, agriculture offers a solid foundation for economic transformation.

A World Bank Report (‘World Development Indicators’, 2006) highlighted that between 1990-2004 African industry including mining and mineral-based manufacturing grew at 1.9% per year compared to 2.5% for agriculture and agriculture alone accounts for two thirds of the gross domestic product. The only way smallholder farmers can play a significant part in the growth of their economies is by overcoming the high costs and prohibitive transaction costs, thus enabling them increased access to assets, information, services and markets necessary to grow.

The FTLRP represented a radical and necessary restructuring of agricultural production which has created a new home-grown economy. The government is therefore tasked with ensuring massive investment into the sector to spearhead the transformation. There are general concerns about the poor rural infrastructure, lack of inputs, poor soils and adverse weather conditions minimising the potential for growth in agriculture and economic development. The government has been understandably limited by unavailability of capital due to the crippling effect of sanctions and unfortunately the effects of drought. There is need for a concerted effort to expedite smallholder-driven agricultural development through increased and sustained investment in inputs, rural infrastructure revamp and agricultural funding to speed up economic growth.

The process takes time, is continually changing, success cannot be gauged for its short-term upshot and it is dishonest to judge the success or failure of the land reform programme based on short-term outcomes. This new agrarian structure has seen the emergence of much greater opportunities for interaction as opposed to the old model that clearly distinguished peasant and commercial agrarian activities. These interactions have seen new farmers being more innovative, having more access to the wider markets and their contribution having a real impact on the national income. The land reform in Zimbabwe must be viewed for its long term vision of economic restructuring and restoration.