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Biti-s sanctions lectures: Is he discrediting himself
January 10, 2013
Zimbabwe-s Finance Minister Tendai Biti-s recent claim
in Canada and in other previous university lectures that 'sanctions-
are 'not serving anyone- has fortunately been diplomatically
shot down by his hosts in Ottawa who told him they will stay.
No disrespect for Tendai
Biti who has been struggling to put together a "pro-poor budget"
against all odds, but I will explain briefly why I disagree with
his latest escapades which contradict what he stood for in the previous
election - democracy, human rights, transparency and accountability.
I am also fully aware
of the harassment Tendai Biti has experienced and continues to endure
at the hands of Mugabe-s militarised Zanu-PF regime including
a nasty spell in Mugabe-s prison and appearance in court on
17, 18 and 19 June 2008 and was charged with four counts including
Tendai Biti in 2009 received
a live bullet through the post and his house was bombed in June
2011 but there have been no arrests. As if that is not enough, Zanu-PF
war vets have besieged Biti-s office more than once -
in June 2011 and in July 2012 and in October 2012.
However, I disagree with
Tendai Biti-s global crusade against restrictive measures
that were imposed on Robert Mugabe and about 200 other Zanu-PF loyalists
for rights abuses and stealing elections.
There should be no illusions
about the effectiveness of the measures, but at least they are service
a useful purpose by hitting the right people - the selected
elites and not the ordinary people as claimed by propagandists and
In my view, Biti-s
campaign is actually what is not serving anyone given that he previously
described foreign travel expenditure as the "Archille-s
heel" in his 2011 Budget statement.
Although Biti is walking
a tight rope, he seems to be barking the wrong tree by targeting
foreign governments without credible evidence of reforms on the
ground which has been missed by their diplomats in Harare. No wonder
why those foreign governments have politely ignored his calls e.g.
the United States, Australia and now Canada.
partners need not look any further for the need for change especially
after the recent resignation
of the Human Rights Commission Chairman Professor Reginald Austin
due to for lack of resources to deliver services.
Indeed that "exposes
the regime-s apparent lack of commitment to upholding human
rights" as some analysts have commented.
Prof Austin said an unnamed
senior government official had demoralised the new team when he
compared the new commission with a baby whose birth the parents
had made no preparations for - "no nursery, no cot bed,
no blankets and no baby food" (Newsday 09/01/13).
Biti needs to know that
the ongoing problem of human rights abuse in Zimbabwe will continue
to discourage the easing of restricted measures on the Commander
in Chief and his allies especially ahead of the referendum and elections.
the Zimbabwe Human
Rights NGO Forum-s Human Rights & National Institutions
Report September 2012 to December 2012, documents the "continuing
harassment" of civil society and political activists that
characterised the period.
environment for NGOs, says the report, continued to be very challenging.
Police arrested and ill-treated peaceful protesters, especially
the Women of Zimbabwe
Other organisations that faced raids and arrests included The Gays
and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, the Counselling
Services Unit and many other civil society organisations offering
vital services to vulnerable Zimbabweans, the report adds.
It is also worth noting
that the Zimbabwe-s human rights report presented by Zanu-PF-s
Patrick Chinamasa in Geneva was described by civil society as "appalling"
and naturally did nothing to placate diplomats who have the power
to remove targeted restrictive measures especially after he rejected
security sector reforms and described the ICRC as a 'kangaroo
Also weakening Tendai
Biti-s case is the budget deficit and the non-remittance of
diamonds cash to Treasury by Zanu-PF elites while Zimbabweans endure
"endless miseries and health challenges" mentioned in
the Human Rights NGO Forum report due to "an appalling level
of service delivery" and water borne diseases such as typhoid
Even the Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare which falls under MDC-T has confirmed that
close to half a million people in Zimbabwe were infected with diarrhoea
Surely, Zimbabwe needs
foreign investment, but there needs to be an enabling environment
first in the form of the respect for human and property rights and
the rule of law including BIPPAS.
Probably, investors will
be keen to know which constitution will be guaranteeing their investments
and what will happen to Nestle before they can take the plunge.
under pressure from the securocrats, Tendai Biti risks discrediting
himself by trying to appease them at the expense of the generality
of Zimbabweans including those forced to leave the country because
of Zanu-PF rights abuses which remain unresolved despite the GNU.
By marginalising the
Diaspora and alienating victims of political violence for expediency,
the new partners in the coalition government in Harare may prove
to be their own worst enemies in their rush to go to polls with
Mugabe without any credible security sector, legal and media reforms.
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