EU sanctions, are they right?

HARARE - We read with a lot of interest a recent decision by the European Union (EU) to drop from their so-called sanctions list a number of key Zanu PF leaders and some institutions.

In Zimbabwe, there is a general belief and misconception that the EU was doing the right thing by imposing sanctions supposedly on targeted individuals and key economic institutions generally seen as allied to Zanu PF.

The fact of the matter is that the so-called sanctions whether targeted or not never had valid legal sanction and standing.

At worst, the EU and its allies including the United States of America tried in vain to use sanctions to bring about political changes in Zimbabwe that suited their own national interests relying on fictitious and concocted evidence that was largely manufactured by their intelligence organisations, foreign service staff and internal local forces that were to be direct beneficiaries of regime change were this to take place.

It is instructive that we point out at the outset that the so-called sanctions were not a United Nations decision as indeed they were not approved by the African Union.

The countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe have a long history of interfering in the domestic affairs of other nations against the United Nations Charter’s position that is very clear on non-interference in other sovereign nations’ domestic or internal affairs.

All the countries that united against Zimbabwe have a dirty past either as colonisers or as bad settlers.
No one talks about the brutality that the Aborigines suffered at the hands of the Australians, the ill-treatment of the Red Indians by the so-called father of democracy, the United States of America, the Canadians have their own skeletons in the cupboards in relation to the indigenous people of Canada, the Europeans have an equally bad history throughout the world through their policy of colonisation, conquest, plunder and outright brutalisation of the colonised.

Each time that we raise these issues, we are told that this is far in history and we should never raise such things to explain our own problems.

The problem with such a position is that it fails to put the whole mission of the Europeans in global affairs both in the past and the present in context.

We cannot sensibly understand the fascination of Europeans with the situation in Africa until we begin to understand their motivation and logic.

To do this well, it might be useful to go back and look at some of the events in the past and why certain decisions and actions were taken.

My position is that what the Europeans did in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century is not any different from their current foreign policy initiatives and destructive military adventures that have left a lot of country totally broken and devastated.

If we go back into history as far back to the period of the invasion of Africa, the success of the invasion and conquest was measured in terms of the Balance Sheet, more like each conquered territory had to generate enough revenue to sustain itself and still make contributions to the fiscus of the mother country.

Effectively, it means that the purpose of colonialism was predicated on business interests and that position has never changed.

The Europeans always wanted to establish proprietorial rights over land, territory and resources and not much has changed since then.

The only difference is that they no longer have control over the territory therefore, there is a high desire to find control through local institutions and people if need be.

This practice is not new because historians will tell you that in India, the British ruled through Kings and Princes.

In reality this means that they managed to forge alliances with local politicians who were ruling by foreign power and in some cases, these were nominated political figures who then became agents of imperial power.

When the colonialists faced opposition from local groups that were hostile to foreign rule, they used harsh and indiscriminate brutality to subdue the indigenous people.

Who does not know what happened to  the Mau Mau of Kenya, the genocide in Namibia, the brutality in the Congo under King Leopold and in modern times, the history of extreme violence against the people of South Africa, the brutality against the people of Zimbabwe, Mozambique etc,?

In all these cases, the real interest was business and not the colonised people.

In fact the people were used as forced and cheap labour to collect rubber, ivory and to work for near to nothing in farms and mines.

The logic was to maximise profits from business operations operating in colonial territories and the development of the territories did not rank high in their priorities.

Historians claim that by the 1930s, colonies and ex-colonies covered 84,6 percent of land surface of the globe.

It is clear that the plunder of colonies by the Anglo Saxons and their cousins and allies was on an unimaginable scale and the major attraction was the huge resources that Africa and other parts of the world had.

Therefore, my own contention is that the recent sanctions on Zimbabwe must be viewed from the context of interest in the resources that the country has and also the fact that Zimbabwe went on to repossess land from the white settler farmers in circumstances seen as a violation of human rights.

Zimbabwe saw juridical sovereignty as in sufficient to allow for proper development and nation building especially if one takes into account that although Zimbabwe was relatively developed at independence in 1980, that development was extremely skewed because it left the majority of the people totally disconnected to the reality of the development that was taking place in the urban centres.

Accordingly, it was imperative that the indigenous people have access to land and the rest of the resources that were and are abundantly available in the country.

To do that, the country needed positive sovereignty which effectively gives the country the right to control not just its resources but also the power to make decisions that advance self-interest otherwise known as national interests.

However, because the Europeans see Africa as an unfinished project, they have never been able to come to terms with a strong indigenous leadership and because there is no other legitimate means to contain such leadership, the so-called international community resorts to the use of economic power to force those nations which prefer to pursue an independent line to tour the line.

Africa is very much tied to Europe and for some very queer reason, the Europeans and Americans have managed to convince a number of African elites that whatever problems Africa faces they have to do with lack of good leadership which if loosely translated means lack of democracy and the rule of law.

The fundamental question that must be asked is, what do you do with rule of law when you do not have a country and if you have it but you have no say or control over your resources what good is it you?

The sanctions on Zimbabwe must be understood and seen as a war over the control of resources and not poor governance, a lie that has been told over and over that we now take it as gospel truth.

The political basis of sanctions we are told was designed to make Zimbabwe comply with International Law, but how does a country comply with a law it has not broken?  

We are further told sanctions were necessary because it had become urgent to contain the threat to peace that was emerging from Zimbabwe’s recalcitrant attitude towards the international community.

The international community as currently structured is a community of nations that use political and economic power to bully the ones that are weakened by an unfair international system that serves the interests of a few nations dominated by the USA.

It is amazing that we should have President Mugabe on the sanctions list that is in fact illegal but the whole world is happy to leave George Bush Jr free to go anywhere he likes when he led an illegal war against a UN member state under false pretences.

Tony Blair was even made a Peace Envoy in the Israel/Palestinian conflict even when he was known to be biased against the Palestinians and he engaged in two dubious wars without the UN mandate. - Davison Todson Gomo
*Gomo is an international lawyer and political analyst.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.