CCM push on Zimbabwe sanctions highly creditable, deserves support

26Oct 2019
The Guardian
CCM push on Zimbabwe sanctions highly creditable, deserves support

THERE is something new from the CCM secretariat, the news that the party is determined to spearhead a regional and continental push for the lifting of the harsh sanctions Western countries have slapped on Zimbabwe.

No country in Africa has slapped any such sanctions or supported them in the first place, as the continent has some representation in organs like the UN Human Rights Commission or the UN Security Council.

The sanctions did not arise from those platforms. Rather, they were enacted in the European Union and eventually supported by the United States, where Africa is patently absent from decision-making processes.

That is the background to addressing that question on the basis of remarks by CCM Vice Chairman (Mainland) Philip Mangulla, to the effect that this effort is a continuation of the party’s record of leading the struggle for the liberation of southern African countries from the 1960s to the early 1990s when apartheid ended in South Africa.

Mangulla is saying that diplomacy can work at present just as much as in the past, which must be true to an extent though with some difficulty.

Even during his time, President Julius Nyerere led the process as head of a sovereign state – and not of a frontline party with other leaders of liberation political parties. In other words, what the CCM secretariat is suggesting only rather indirectly relates to foreign policy.

Another difficulty is that the sanctions on Zimbabwe are seen from an economic point of view much like the US sanctions on Cuba, and not from a political viewpoint. It has to do with the post-1989 global consensus for multiparty democracy, which Tanzania embraces.

We definitely have reason to be proud of our record in leading the political struggle for independence, while reminding ourselves that the defence of national independence goes in tandem with democratic practice.

The sanctions on Zimbabwe are in part associated with claims of differences of opinion largely between the ruling party and opposition parties – and failure by the two sides to meet halfway and move along without the need for violent demonstrations, rubber bullets and the like.

The West sees this as symptomatic of political mismanagement, which they equate with forceful defence of corruption by those in power, but the ruling party and indeed the government is far from impressed.

A meeting of liberation political parties last month in Zimbabwe resolved that each October 25 be set out as a special sub-regional day to call for an unconditional lifting of sanctions. It is widely hoped that this decision will go alongside making steady progress towards making the sanctions irrelevant.

Zimbabwe is as much a sovereign state as any other and surely deserves respect from outside, but many hope it is still possible for both the ruling party and the government to meet halfway the key demands with respect to governance and democratic practice.

Many observers wonder in what manner really the current Zimbabwean government ‘poses an unusual and extraordinary threat to US foreign policy’, for instance.

How precisely Harare will treat this tilted stance remains to be sees, but it is clear that accommodating the some demands by civil society and involving the opposition more in government as now practised in a number of other African countries will help.

Indeed, this might well be part of the “magic” Mangulla has hinted on about CCM planning to inject into efforts to spare Zimbabwe years of crippling economic and other sanctions. The road promises to be thorny, but the initiative is by all accounts laudable and worth supporting.