America is abusing international law

Godwine Mureriwa
The signal to other Western countries, and Zimbabwe itself, appears to be “it is not about reforms or free, fair and credible elections that will re-engage Zimbabwe. It is about our reading of them with respect to our interests, singly and collectively”.

This year is certainly as historic for Zimbabweans as was 1980 when we attained Independence.

After a bitter and protracted liberation struggle against Ian Smith’s illegal white settler regime, Britain finally presided over the 1979 Lancaster House talks that paved way for the first democratic elections, resoundingly won by Zanu-PF.

Similarly, this year the country is enjoying a new political dispensation that comes against the backdrop of Operation Restore Legacy, which culminated in the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe.

The new administration has widely been credited for delivering a free, fair and credible election in post-independence Zimbabwe.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to engage and re-engage the international community after two decades of hostile relations with Western countries, just as Mr Robert Mugabe pronounced the policy of national reconciliation after the liberation struggle.

Zimbabwe is a peaceful and hospitable country.

However, it continues to be haunted by a British colonial past that inevitably has made it a hot spot in international politics, not least because the land reform programme has been a thorn in the flesh of collective Western interests.

“On Wednesday, August 8, 2018, the President (Donald Trump) signed into law: S2779, the ‘Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act of 2018’ which amends the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001,” a hegemonic statement from the White House read.

This means US President Donald Trump has extended sanctions that were first enacted into law by George W Bush on December 21, 2001 when he had classified Zimbabwe as an “unusual”, “extraordinary” and “continuing” threat to US foreign policy.

While a number of Zimbabwe’s domestic and foreign policies (like abandonment of Esap, indigenisation and empowerment initiatives, involvement in the 1998 DRC war and the Look East thrust) are attributed to the collective Western onslaught against Zimbabwe, the land issue remains the main cause of the conflict that is set to be with us for a long time into the future.

The US Agency for International Development once said, “Zimbabwe is strategic country for the US because events in Zimbabwe have a significant impact on the entire Southern African region.”

In essence, the vast minerals resources in South Africa and in Zimbabwe in particular are a “curse” as they make the case for Western aggression.

Illegal sanctions are tantamount to economic terrorism.

Of the seven African countries that saw bitter armed struggles for independence, five were in Southern Africa — Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Clearly, Zimbabwe has become a sacrificial lamb for Namibia and South Africa, where land repossession is set to follow Zimbabwe’s precedence.

Most European countries that are invested in land in these countries stand to be the biggest losers.

In our context, it is also important to note that during Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence, a number of Dutch farmers invested in Zimbabwe’s land.

However, more European countries and their nationals did invest after Independence under bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements.

Generally, the land issue is the source of instability in the region.

The West invokes international law, dangling an unreachable carrot together with a hard-hitting stick on Africans, to protect their interests.

Property rights are central to what they purport as to be lack of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

It is about invoking international law to protect what they robbed and want to continue exploiting.

To them, international law appears to ignore history.

If natural justice had been applied at the beginning of it all, then we would not have seen a whole nation losing its land to foreigners.

You cannot lose your goods to a robber, and when you now have the means to reclaim the goods by the same method used by the robber on you, then the robber cries for natural justice.

International law is being used by the powerful against the weak as a ruthless tool for monopoly and exploitation.

In December 2001, the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku made it clear to David Hasluck — director of the Commercial Farmers Union (1984-2012) — that politics and history could be ignored in respect of Zimbabwe’s land question.

“Mr Hasluck, you can win in law everytime, but my court is going to deal with matters relating to the land in the context of what l see as social justice, and I have every reason to believe that, that is what we can expect from the court, not reference to precedence set by Roman Dutch Law. The court will look at a new approach and come up with what I see to be justice to redress the inequalities of the past and restore what was taken from the people for nothing.”

Therefore, the West is forever aggrieved by the land reform programme that was done legally through Zimbabwe’s laws because the law did not favour their own.

The US says sanctions can only go when the pre-1998 land tenure is restored.

In 2010, when an inclusive Government team comprising ministers Patrick Chinamasa, Elton Mangoma and Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga went to Europe to lobby for lifting of sanctions, the French government, then chairing the EU, issued this telling statement.

“One, it is not about democracy, the MDC or some such nebulous ideal that we have imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe. It is about our interests, individually as countries, collectively as the European bloc. Two, it is not about the progress you make under the GPA or inclusive Government, it is about our reading of it in relation to our interests, singly and collectively. Only when these two are satisfied will sanctions go.”

Deductively, in the current context, one can hear the US echoing similar sentiments.

The signal to other Western countries, and Zimbabwe itself, appears to be “it is not about reforms or free, fair and credible elections that will re-engage Zimbabwe. It is about our reading of them with respect to our interests, singly and collectively”.

Not surprisingly, the US have even said economic reforms also include revisiting or cancelling mega deals that Zimbabwe has made with China, Russia and other countries unfavourable to the US.

However, the competition for Zimbabwe’s mineral resources and investment opportunities will tempt some Western countries to pursue their interests outside the dictates set by the US.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has indicated that sanctions are not a surprise and will not prevent Zimbabwe from shaping the destiny it wants. Zimbabwe might be open for business, but not abuse. Zimbabwe wants partners not masters.

Our sovereignty is supreme, and the land reform programme is irreversible.

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