Bigwigs use sanctions excuse to loot, says Mzembi

FORMER Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi yesterday criticised the continued placement of Zanu-PF officials on the sanctions’ list saying it was giving some bigwigs in government leeway to engage in illicit financial outflows and massive corruption.

Mzembi, now exiled in South Africa following the November 2017 coup, which resulted in President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over from the late former President Robert Mugabe, said the targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe’s political elite was giving hardliners an excuse to continue engaging in unscrupulous activities.

Th former Foreign Affairs minister’s assertions came after the United Kingdom (UK) on Monday slapped State Security minister Owen Ncube, Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Isaac Moyo, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, and the former commander of the Presidential Guard, Anselem Sanyatwe with sanctions over the 2018 and 2019 extra-judicial killing of citizens.

“My experience in government is that these targeted sanctions are victory handed to the hardliners,” Mzembi, who also once served as Tourism minister told NewsDay.

“How they are affected by this – one wonders. Sanctions busting becomes an excuse for illicit outflows and unconventional conduct. It has not worked before,” the former Zanu-PF official said.

Mzembi further said that the engagement of lobbyists by the government to pretend as if it is clamouring for the removal of sanctions was a “scam” by bigwigs to get kickbacks.

Zimbabwe engaged international public relations firms to lobby the Western countries and the United States of America to remove sanctions imposed on the country.

“I have said it was a scam by bureaucrats to take kickbacks. Nothing can work if it is not anchored on citizen diplomacy,” he said, adding that if Zimbabwe were to be heard in its re-engagement quest, then it needed to address its internal problems.

“You cannot reposition foreign policy-wise, before solving the problems at home.

“Our people badly need to talk, to heal, to reconcile, to forgive and unite,” he said.

Mzembi said the UK should focus on selling a “five-point plan” instead of imposing sanctions as they would aid the corrupt to justify their actions in unscrupulous engagements.

“Here is what 10 Downing Street (UK government headquarters) and (United States President) Joe Biden should facilitate through Sadc and the African Union: national dialogue, national healing, reconciliation and the unity government, as well as reforms leading to internationally supervised elections and an economic marshal plan.

“They will be more relevant selling this five point plan than imposing sanctions, so each point is developed starting with a convention for a democratic Zimbabwe, and our people badly need to talk, to heal, to reconcile, to forgive and to unite.”

Political analyst, Rashweat Mukundu said: “The new UK sanctions on Zimbabwean security chiefs are unfortunate, though not necessarily unexpected. The UK and other Western countries are showing that they are not hoodwinked by the Zimbabwe government talks of engagement which unfortunately are not supported by action.”

Mukundu added: “Zimbabwe remains stuck in the past when it comes to human rights issues and this is a key factor in either improving or poisoning relations between Zimbabwe and the UK, and other Western countries. Hopefully the government sees this as an opportunity to introspect and speed up democratic reforms rather than to stonewall.”

On Monday, UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson said corruption, not sanctions, was holding Zimbabwe back, adding that there is need for reforms to rebuild the troubled country.

This was in response to claims doing the rounds in government circles that the UK sanctions against Zimbabwe were the reason for the country’s economic woes.

Source – newsday