Opinion & Columnist

We have a moral duty to chant down sanctions

Ranga Mataire Writing Black
JUST like slavery and colonialism, the unilateral imposition of sanctions on a sovereign nation is not only immoral, but dehumanising and a serious violation of human rights, which must be condemned by all progressive forces, including the United Nations.

As SADC gears towards October 25, a day set aside as an Anti-Sanctions Day, we need to be clear in understanding the fact that just like slavery and colonialism, sanctions are an act of aggression meant to dissipate a country’s resolve to chart its own sovereign destiny.

Just like colonialism and slavery, sanctions are meant to arm-twist a nation’s leadership into thinking and acting in tandem with whims and interests of neo-colonial forces whose agenda is to perpetually render African countries hewers of wood and drawers of water.

As such, Africans need to maintain the utmost vigilance and resist the slightest temptation to be divided by a few pieces of silver. The decision taken by SADC to collectively denounce the continued existence of sanctions must be applauded as a revolutionary solidarity act meant to buffer the region from open acts of aggression from powerful Western nations.

Never in the history of SADC, particularly in the post-colonial epoch, has the region spoken in unison on an issue that concerns a fellow brotherly country like Zimbabwe, which has been under sanctions for close to two decades.


While the commemorations were last year characterised by the exposé of how the sanctions had devastated the country’s economic progress, citing specific examples in industry, agriculture and trade; this year’s Anti-Sanctions Day is likely to show the resilience and the audacity of a nation destined to succeed against all odds.

The Covid-19 presents a different approach to the commemorations whose main thrust is to ensure our anti-sanctions message reaches a global spectrum, particularly those countries that imposed the sanctions.

We must inundate all virtual platforms with messages from ordinary people who bear the brunt of this economic embargo and expose the lie that the sanctions are targeted.

We must let the world know that sanctions have nothing to do with human rights violations, but have everything to do with regime change following Zimbabwe’s decision to embark on the revolutionary land reform programme that sought to correct colonial historical injustices.

We are of course conscious of the fact that the Anti-Sanctions Day commemorations are unlikely to lead to the immediate lifting of sanctions. However, the collective solidarity by SADC is meant to exert moral pressure on those who imposed the sanctions.

What continues to trouble some of us is the fact that while SADC is speaking in unison against the sanctions, we have some among us who derive pleasure in seeing their country in an economic quagmire.

The biggest shame in our case is that while it was mostly the educated lot that spearheaded anti-colonial struggles in the past, today some of these intellectuals have become the most regressive force in Zimbabwe’s struggle for economic sovereignty.

How good and pleasant it will be that despite our political differences, we all unite as Zimbabwe to exert pressure on those who imposed sanctions on us. Opposition political parties must desist from being parochial, but look at the bigger picture.

We need to safeguard an enduring legacy for future generations and this can only be done by ensuring that we all demand that Zimbabwe be allowed to chart its own destiny particularly on the issue of land.

For the benefit of those keen to understand America’s pervasive foreign policy particularly its attitude towards countries deemed adversaries, Guatemala is an apt case study.


In 1951, America imposed sanctions on Guatemala after their 25th president, the revolutionary Juan Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, embarked on a land reform exercise.

The indigenous people of Guatemala took a brave stand and took their land, which had been shared among a few white families including individuals from the US and the Anglo-American conglomerates.

This move by the Guatemalans did not go down well with the Americans and their allies. They immediately hatched a propaganda blitz of demonising President Juan Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.

This was followed by the imposition of economic sanctions and after 10 long years of sanctions and suffering, the Guatemalan army ousted their president under the instigation of the US and its conglomerates.

The Guatemalan army thought that only their president was the problem and after eliminating him they believed that sanctions would be removed, but the US told them that the embargo could not be removed since they, the army was part and parcel of the old regime (the same old taxi with a new driver).

They were then told to hold so-called free and fair elections in which they could contest with an opposition party, which was being sponsored by the US.

This opposition party was recruited from the indigenous people, but directed by the CIA under Allen Dulles and George H Bush.

The elections came and the opposition won, but still sanctions were not removed. The reason given by the US was that this party was a Red Indian party and it was, they, the indigenous people, who had robbed the whites and the US conglomerates of their land.

So, what they needed to do was to reverse the land ownership rights to what they were on 31 December, 1950. This meant the return of land to the whites, before the sanctions could be removed. They agreed to do that, but still sanctions were not removed.

The next condition given was that the US would give the money to the white farm owners, so that they could revive their farms which had been vandalised by the Red Indians, but this money was going to be paid back by the Red Indian government through taxation of their indigenous people. They also agreed to that, but still sanctions were not removed.


The last, but most brutal and final condition was that the Guatemalan government cut the reserves where their indigenous people were living by 75 percent and gave that land to the whites as compensation because the whites needed to cover up for the 10 years’ loss of production caused by the land reform.

Also, all the communities whose land had been included in this 75 percent had to automatically become compulsory farm labourers of the new white owners.

This was agreed upon and up to today the indigenous people are living on 25 percent of their land, while a few white families and United Fruit Company and other European Conglomerates occupy 75 percent of the land.

Guatemala is today the biggest producer of the so-called Euro Banana. The bananas are shipped to Europe at the cheapest price.

The money from these products goes to the US and Europe, leaving the Guatemalan indigenous people being one of the poorest communities on the planet.

Our situation in Zimbabwe is not so different from the one Guatemala one. The USA and its allies made it clear that no sanctions will be removed as long as the land ownership rights in this country are not reversed) and returned to the minority white Rhodies.

Zimbabweans must remain steadfast in opposing sanctions. We do not want to be another Guatemala where citizens have literally become squatters in the land of their birth.