Sanctions propaganda fuels corruption

HARARE - In the past decade or so, Zanu PF has explained Zimbabwe’s economic problems through what it calls “illegal sanctions.”

Sanctions were central to Zanu PF’s campaign before last July’s elections.

The party included in its manifesto, a claim that sanctions invited by the MDC had cost Zimbabwe $42 billion.

That Zanu PF won the elections, notwithstanding a degree of electoral chicanery, perhaps explains that many Zimbabweans have indeed embraced “sanctions” as the single cause of their agonies.

An examination of the discourse on Zimbabwe’s economic crisis reveals that Zanu PF’s sanctions narrative has had a huge part to play in the scandal on salaries of executives and corruption at public institutions.

To fulfil its political objectives, Zanu PF mobilised the executives to advance “sanctions” as the sole cause of the country’s economic problems.

For example, in May 2011, Zanu PF provincial spokesperson Claudius Mutero, said: “The Harare City Council and Zesa must come out in the open and speak against sanctions that are affecting service provision.
“They should come out in the open and allow us to fight the same battle because sanctions are affecting every sector.”

Just as Zanu PF invoked “sanctions” to disguise poor governance, the executives found a shield in the same storyline to camouflage corporate malfeasances.

Poor service and lack of viability found a ready, convenient and unquestioned narrative.

Then from beneath the carapace of the sanctions narrative, the putrid ooze of corporate perfidy seeped out for all to see.

Except for Psmas, executives at ZBC, Air Zimbabwe, Harare City Council and Marange Resources all conveniently cited “sanctions” as the impediment to service and viability.

In November last year, Stanley Mungofa, City of Harare director for environmental health, claimed the measures were to blame for the council’s failure to provide clean water and proper sanitation to Harare residents.

Nonetheless, a monthly salary bill of $500 000 for executives makes the sanctions narrative less plausible. Happison Muchechetere also blamed sanctions for the poor quality programming at ZBC.

However, ZBC can procure equipment elsewhere other than the West to improve its operations; it recently purchased a radio Outside Broadcast van for $100 000 from China.

Muchechetere’s salary could pay for this in only three months or 40 workers’ salaries at $1 000 monthly. The mining companies have also trotted out the sanctions line as an excuse for low remittances to the fiscus.

Yet, an audit carried out on Marange Resources Diamond Company reveals government was prejudiced of millions of dollars as management inflated procurement receipts and pocketed the difference.

At Air Zimbabwe, acting managing director, Grace Pfumbidzayi was suspended after allegedly authorising “fraudulent” payments to an insurance firm awarded a contract without going to tender. Pfumbidzayi is said to have justified the payments by claiming the airline was trying to “bust sanctions.”

Zanu PF has utilised sanctions as a source of political mobilisation. From these examples, it is evident that perfidious executives, operating without effective or with complicit fiduciaries, complied with the Zanu PF sanctions storyline, albeit for self-enrichment. Information minister Jonathan Moyo described the managers’ “self-serving narratives.” The sanctions narrative has, in fact, served both Zanu PF and the executives.

As Zanu PF touted “illegal sanctions” for political reasons, executives marshalled the narrative for personal gain. 

So long as the executives sang Zanu PF’s tune, they were spared scrutiny because, firstly, perhaps the deleterious effects of the measures on the organisations were presumed glibly and, secondly and certainly, Zanu PF was content with a narrative that absolved it of misrule.

With sanctions as the national anthem over the past 12 years, Zanu PF drove us deep into corruption-land. The unfolding revelations have shown the public that sanctions alone may not be the sole source of their suffering.

As Moyo intoned, the unfolding malfeasances have “very dire consequences on the national economy, particularly on the welfare and wellbeing of ordinary people…”

The disclosures should, therefore, mark a turning point in our “crisis discourse”— from an  exaggerated self-serving narrative of sanctions to a broader discourse that also examines endogenous demons.

Comments (4)

I think the respective countries can do us a good by removing these ' restrictive' actions.Ordinary Zimbabweans donot understand the difference between 'restrictve measures' and crumbling services, particularly in this polarised environment.It would be very interesting to see what would be said when 'sanctions' are removed.

chokwadi chokwadi - 11 February 2014

Conrad u shld refrain from using the same rhetoric that politicians use. Don't used very deep and uncommon words & phrases coz some pipo will fail to get the story. Your objective is to inform us and not confuse us. Case in point, "...Then from beneath the carapace of the sanctions narrative, the putrid ooze of corporate perfidy seeped ..."

Taffy - 11 February 2014

Removing the restrictive measures means that the corruption will be carried out of the Zim borders. They'd shopping at Harrod's every week spending at least 250 000 per individual. think again

Taffy - 11 February 2014

Conrad, now you have written an excellent article....These guys were really hiding behind sanctions ivo vachi looter big time.....Its like they were telling people especially their electorate to tighten their belt yet they were loosen their....Mbavha dze vanhu

Clemence Tashaya - 12 February 2014

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