By Trevor Shiri
The United States has escalated its political and economic war against Zimbabwe in the past few weeks, despite spirited efforts by the New Dispensation to re-engage on an equal footing with a view to fostering a mutually beneficial long-lasting bilateral relationship.
President Mnangagwa’s Government has deliberately implemented a new foreign policy thrust anchored on the mantra, “Zimbabwe is Open for Business and Re-engagement”.
It is, however, sad that despite the sincerity by Harare, Washington has chosen to intensify its anti-Zimbabwe activities, both politically and economically, in a vain bid to strangulate its economy, and ultimately effect regime change.
Washington has realised that, despite the existence of the spiteful and evil illegal ZIDERA, whose net effect is to criminalise, facilitation of international transfers to and from Zimbabwe, as well as trade with it by Americans, Harare has continued to trade and survive under sanctions. As Chester Crocker predicted, Zimbabwe’s economy is screaming, but resilient, and has steadfastly refused to wilt under the albatross of illegal sanctions imposed by Uncle Sam and the European Union (EU).
Instead, under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa, and his able team of finance and economic gurus, Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 to attain an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030 is well on course. This has displeased Uncle Sam whose neo-imperial designs on Zimbabwe, which are symbolised by its construction of arguably the biggest US embassy in Africa, if not the world, in “little” Zimbabwe become visible.
Zimbabwe has de-dollarised as a result of shortage of foreign currency, anchored by the US dollar, and has sought to secure and ring-fence its export earnings, mainly from farming (tobacco), mining (diamonds, platinum and gold) and tourism (sport hunting), for importing essential needs for the country. These earnings have had the effect of mitigating the debilitating effects of the illegal sanctions.
Enter the US: Withhold Release Order
In order to sabotage the trade in Zimbabwe diamonds, despite the country’s gems being KPCS certified, the US Customs and Border Protection on October 1, unilaterally issued a “Withhold Release Order for Artisanal Rough Cut Diamonds” from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields “due to evidence of forced labour”. Woow! Unbelievable. Forced labour in a country that has high formal unemployment levels, where people jostle to get a job?
“Artisanal diamonds” in a country where the only certified diamond miner is the Government-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZMDC), which formally mines and exports diamonds on the back of a KPCS certificate? This is not the gold sector, where artisanal miners are allowed to sell gold to Fidelity Printers. The diamond sector is different, it is highly regulated and mining is done under the supervision of the KPCS.
Even anti-Government elements such as Zimbabwe Centre for Natural Resource Governance director, Farai Maguwu, who spiritedly fought but failed to stop the certification of Zimbabwe by the KPCS, citing spurious human rights claims has refuted the existence of forced labour in the diamond sector in Zimbabwe.
Writing on his official Facebook page, Maguwu categorically stated: “I wish to make it clear that as leader of one of the organisations doing human rights work in Marange, we are NOT aware of cases of forced labour in Marange.” What then is the reason for the confiscation of the country’s gems by Uncle Sam, if not out of spitefulness?
The irony of the gratuitous and hypocritical false stance on forced labour is that America itself, and worse still its ambassador, Brian Nichols, are products and descendants of the slave trade — itself a barbaric, tortuous, inhuman and degrading form of forced labour. America’s superpower status is a product of slavery!
While Zimbabweans were still digesting this inexplicable economic transgression against the country’s diamonds, news filtered that the US was in the process of crafting a law banning the importation of sport-hunted trophies from Zimbabwe dubbed “Cecil Act.” The Act is named after Cecil the Lion, which was killed in Hwange National Park, and caused a furore in July 2015.
According to Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Permanent Secretary Munesu Munodawafa, the net effect of the Act would be to inhibit the movement of sport-hunted trophies to America. Revenue from sport-hunted trophies by tourists, mainly from America, is a major source of revenue for the country’s wildlife conservation efforts and major forex earner for the country. Uncle Sam is displeased by this, and is turning the crews on Harare to dry up this revenue stream as the Act will discourage tourists from visiting Zimbabwe.
Ironically, as part of its public diplomacy efforts to hoodwink gullible Zimbabweans, and the world at large, the US Embassy on October 2, hypocritically tweeted that: “Ambassador Brian Nichols met International Fund for Animal Welfare representatives today to discuss ways to enhance wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe. The US supports local and international efforts to protect and recover endangered species, as well as ending wildlife trafficking.” Unbelievable!
Uncle Sam does not want Zimbabwe to fund its own wildlife conservation, which foreign tourists troop to view and hunt, because of the country’s ability to conserve them. It wants to pretend to be donating after strangling the country’s capacity to do it for itself, and in the process, attach political strings to such assistance.
What is worse is that when the British colonised America and overran the Red Indians, they decimated the wildlife there into extinction, which is precisely why they have zoos, instead of national parks, filled with imported, and at times, looted African wildlife. It is absurd that those who murdered their wildlife into extinction pretend to have a heart for wildlife, yet they should be learning from us how it is done.
The US has been at the forefront of financing, co-ordinating and executing violent demonstrations in the country to invite a backlash from the security services and then cry human rights abuses in the process. Washington financed the January 2019 violent protests, which were consummated at Wild Geese Lodge in Harare in November 2018, using a motely host of willing pro-opposition agents.
Of late, having realised that Government had successfully neutralised the violent demonstrations, the US has resorted to black operations such as faked abductions, which it spuriously blames on Government. Uncle Sam inexplicably places the number of alleged abductions at 50, although there are three or four known “fake abductions”, on record with the prominent ones being the fake abduction of Dr Peter Mugombeyi and Samantha “Gonyeti” Kureya.
The embassy cannot even enumerate these alleged fictitious 50 abductions that it bandies around. Does not give names and places of the so-called abductions. It is simply because they are non-existent. These staged abductions have been used as rallying points by the US to paint a picture of a deteriorating human rights situation in the New Dispensation as a basis to call for the continuation and escalation of the illegal sanctions regime pursuant to illegally parachuting the MDC to power.
Cognisant of the foregoing blatant machinations by the US and its unbridled and unashamed interference in Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and assault on its livelihood, it may be high time that Harare reconsiders its re-engagement efforts with Washington.