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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 14:31 GMT
Zimbabwe: Time for sanctions?
European Union foreign ministers are to meet on Monday to decide whether to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe after it expelled the head of an EU delegation monitoring the country's elections.

Swedish diplomat Pierre Schori left Zimbabwe on Saturday after having his visa cancelled by President Mugabe's government.

He was said to be guilty of "political arrogance and insulting behaviour".

But Mr Schori insists the Zimbabwean authorities had just contrived a means of stopping his mission.

How should the international community react to the expulsion? Is it time to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe?


The bottom line is that the politicians will pay lip service, and do nothing anyway

Dan, Germany
Sanctions good or not... very debatable. I have just returned and the facts are there to be seen. Mealie meal, the staple diet, is almost impossible to buy, inflation is running at more than 100%, the GDP will be down 60%, the country must import maize due to the farms being taken over and lain fallow, Zanu-PF vigilantes, attacks on any active farm, cattle slaughtered, water poisoned.. I could go on, but won't. The bottom line is that the politicians will pay lip service, and do nothing anyway.

The election will be rigged, but observers or not, it will be called free and fair. A legacy of Britain's empire days and the chaos they caused in many a land. If they had not have colonised, what then? Still chaos I suppose. Remember, so much of this is tribal based, as we are in Europe, and they will need centuries to come through that, just as we are still trying here in Europe. In the meantime blaming the whites is a useful vehicle to spread fear and hatred among a largely illiterate population.
Dan, Germany

Imposing sanctions seem to become more of a fashion than a real tool to achieve something. There were sanctions against Milosovic's Serbia (Yugoslavia) but these could not stop the killing of hundreds of thousands of human beings; another example is sanctions against Iraq - is Saddam Hussain suffering? for sure, it is innocent and helpless people who are suffering. Now Bush etc. are talking of eliminating/toppling Saddam Hussain. Let us learn something from the past and try to get rid of Mugabe. I do not mean necessarily to kill him but throw him away from the Government. Sanctions will simply harm the already poor of the country, since Mugabe does not care about his countrymen.
A. Chaudhary, Italy

African mis-governance has been tolerated for far too long

Kevan Hyett, Botswana
It is common knowledge that African mis-governance has been tolerated for far too long. Mugabe's rope has been let out long enough and now he has taken a step too far. So let him hang himself with it and suffer from personal financial sanctions accordingly. But not against ordinary Zimbabweans for they have suffered too much abuse from Mugabe for far too long.
Kevan Hyett, Botswana

Sanctions against Zimbabwe will only be of any use to enforce fair elections if Mugabe and others of the leading elite are targeted. I hope the EU will come trough this first test or its foreign policy in one piece and with adequate results.
Ben Cardoen, Belgium

On the whole mass sanctions will adversely affect the very people they are designed to benefit, ie. the poor and oppressed. However, why not apply the same kind of sanctions that were used against Bin Laden and al-Qaeda?
Mike, London, UK

Rich nations applying sanctions is precisely the kind of self-righteous hypocrisy that angers the developing world. Since it is we who made their economies dependent on our aid programmes, we have a responsibility not to leave them in the lurch. Blair is waking up to the state of emergency sweeping over all of Africa, but I fear it will be a case of too little, too late. Let's stop pussy-footing around!

Arrest Mugabe, put him before an international tribunal, and move on! Right now he's laughing up his sleeve at us. Zimbabwe doesn't want our charity. It wants a level playing field. It wants aid programmes that build parity, not cunning devices that underpin western supremacy. Action and reaction are equal and opposite. As long as we continue to exploit and belittle the Third World, it is bound to continue to render itself ungovernable.
Simon Cameron, UK

Sanctions wil add fuel to the fire. The government have rejected one E.U. monitor, apply sanctions and it may deport all of them. It's a case of "Catch22"!
Anon, Zimbabwe

Allow me to express my worry over the expulsion of the EU elections monitor in Zimbabwe. This has worsened the already violent situation in the country. Now sanctions are on the way. These are to affect the ordinary Zimbabweans. Something must be done, to punish Mugabe the hardliner.
Mpagipaul, Makerere university, Kampala

Short-term sanctions do not work

Kumbe Kumaya, Nigeria
Simple and short-term sanctions do not work - take former Nigeria dictator General Abacha for example. Sanctions made it even harder to overthrow him. As for the West, tell Zimbabweans your interest in their country before you start talking about sanctions because you supported Mr Mugabe when times were good so why is he your number one enemy now?
Kumbe Kumaya, Nigeria

To all those who feel that sanctions are a neo-colonialist or imperialist move by the West, here is a compromise, each country should have the right not to deal with any other country where they feel the regime is unpalatable. So therefore if the EU states don't like the Zanu-PF regime don't deal with them, cut all diplomatic ties, don't grant visas to government officials, expel them and recall your ambassadors. Withdraw any financial contributions including aid and expose companies who continue to deal with that government, much better than imposing sanctions. Then the people of Zimbabwe will see Mugabe for the international pariah he is.
Steve, UK

The sooner European officials realise that Mugabe does not understand the language they are talking, the sooner the problems will be resolved. Mugabe seems hell bent on taking Zimbabwe back into the dark ages - perhaps it is time to let him - he has plundered any wealth the country had, so he should be able to offer financial support and aid to those suffering because of his insanity. Every time Mugabe screws up the western world goes running back there with financial aid, medical aid, and so on. Hit him where it hurts - his masses are suffering from his stupidity, so why are we supporting the masses while he gets the vote? That should be the sanction: Mugabe you sort your mess out, you re-invest the wealth you have stolen from your people - because there is nothing else coming from here.
Marco, UK

Isn't it time for Britain to stop the colonialism policy that has caused misery and death to tens of millions all around Africa, the Middle East and Asia over several centuries. The character assassination it has used on many nationalist leaders (Idi Amin, Colenel Gadafy, Castro, Saddam Hussein) will hopefully not work on President Mugabe. After all, what is his unacceptable fault? I hope the EU will not be conned this time.
Emir Timur, Turkey

How much more can the ordinary people suffer?

Bob, Canada
Yes I think the European nations should impose sanctions. Mugabe must be shown that he cannot act like a despot. Zimbabwe is on its way to being a charity case so how much more can the ordinary people suffer?
Bob, Canada

Sanctions should have been applied to Zimbabwe some time ago. Mr Mugabe and Zanu PF have clearly strayed from the path of representative, popular government. Sanctions provide an effective means of reducing revenues that would otherwise be available to maintain this emerging dictatorship. They also demonstrate to the growing number of political dissidents that they are not alone in their struggle to restore democracy.
Will, USA

I have a few observations to make on imposing sanctions on President Mugabe. Sanctions will only make Mr Mugabe more ruthless and more powerful. Remember he has the backing of the armed forces and for an African elite like him to be removed, sanctions are not the solution. You have to find the means of making his armed forces weak, including using a neighbouring country as the second liberation ground. Otherwise, political sanctions will hurt no-one else except the mass of Zimbabweans.
Nathan Rwaje, Burundi

My heart cries out in agony and pain for those who suffer more than ever before

Rich, USA
I fought in the war and was actually part of a camp that Mugabe personally led an attack against. In hindsight, we should never have fought and as a young man, I was brainwashed into believing the reasons for the war. To have Mugabe take over and run the country was fine and should have happened peacefully years before. If he had only done what he promised - to start anew, to care for all Zimbabweans - Ndebele, Shona, White and Indian. But to see him intentionally destroy one of the most wonderful countries in the world leaves me empty. I can't image how those very people who fought for freedom now feel - ruled by a dictator who has turned his back on all he stood for. My heart cries out in agony and pain for those who suffer more than ever before, betrayed by their leader who only has one person in mind. Himself!
Rich, USA

I would have to agree with most of the people who believe that sanctions are wrong. The Zimbabwe people will get tired of Mugabe and deal with him themselves, so let them be.
Ryckesha Wells, Bay Area, USA

Imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe will do nothing. We must join with the UN to provide the means to help the people of Zimbabwe reform their corrupt government. Sanctions without options is useless. The people of that country must feel they've contributed in changing things, not sitting idly back while other governments of the world decide their fate for them.
Josh Stanley, Merseyside, UK

The West has to learn that it cannot impose its will on the rest of the world. It is only another form of colonialism. The government of Zimbabwe must be changed by the people of Zimbabwe.
Yassir Nayek-Eshabab, Zimbabwe

The EU should have applied sanctions two years ago when all of this major trouble started. With Mugabe's track record and the resources the EU has at their disposal, there is no way the EU can possibly deny what has been going on in Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, let alone the last five years. Apply sanctions and do it now and make the Zimbabwe's leaders pay dearly for the destruction of a once vibrant country.
R.Borland, Zimbabwe

Sanctions will add to the discomfort of suffering Zimbabweans and are unlikely to dislodge Mugabe or moderate his behaviour. A more selective strategy is needed: if Mugabe has to go, then go for Mugabe. Applying sanctions to a nation in Zimbabwe's condition is like kicking a man when he's down - it might make the assailant feel better, but it's doing the victim no good at all.
Chris B, England

Inch by inch, autocratic decree by autocratic decree, Robert Mugable is driving a potentially prosperous country to ruin. Quiet diplomacy has achieved nothing. Unless drastic action is taken, including the removal of Mugabe from power, the country will continue on its downhill path of anarchy and ruin. The time for decisive action is now.
Mark Crozier, South Africa

Often in situations such as Zimbabwe finds herself in, the imposition of sanctions has had brutal effects on the ordinary people they intend to protect. The international community must realise that the best way to send out a clear message of disgust with any government's actions is to impose sanctions that target individual members of that government, their families and cronies. Only then can these oppressive regimes start to appreciate the gravity of their actions. Economic sanctions against Zimbabwe would further worsen the hardships faced by Zimbabweans now while giving the Mugabe government another opportunity to barrage us with the sickest of cheap propaganda. If we are certain that this government should taste its own medicine, I suggest application of sanctions to these individuals.
Welensky Kakwindi, Karoi, Zimbabwe

Smart sanctions aimed at Mugabe, close family and ministers would at least be a small step in the right direction. Mugabe has flaunted the rule of law and Zimbabwe's Constitution . He should be made told in no uncertain terms that this behaviour cannot be tolerated by other members of the Commonwealth. How can anyone imagine that elections will be 'free and fair' after months of extreme intimidation by self-styled 'war vets.' Why is Mugabe going through the motions of a legitimate election when he will accept no opposition or any result other than hiw own victory? The world used sanctions against South Africa during Apartheid - why are they now holding back in the face of this escalating violent situation. Is 'post-colonial guilt so great that it allows dictators to operate unhindered?
Dee, England

To subject the country to sanctions would be detrimental to all but the political elite, exactly the people who should be 'hit' by them. Zimbabwe is reeling from the effects of a donor aid freeze and Mugabe passes this off with a wave of the hand. The ruling party is dominated by those who fought a long and bitter war for their independence. They are idealogues and have never wavered from those ideals when threatened (often by much worse that sanctions). Dialogue is probably the only way change will be brought about in their minds. The possibility of very selective application of restraints on Mr Mugabe and his cronies' international movement, hidden bank accounts etc. may have some effect but if life in an African jail did not break their resolve I fail to see how sanctions, however precisely targeted, will change much.
Clive, Kenya

It's about time for the international community to take drastic actions to express its disapproval and disappointments towards the Zimbabwean government and the Zanu PF (ruling party). The act of illegal seizure of land and killing the owners for their resistance was appalling and barbaric. What's worst? It's constitutionally a democratic country. Let's act now before they can do more damage and suffering.
Francis Mo, Sydney, Australia

While we must feel immense unease at Mugabe's actions over the past couple of years, imposing sanctions is only effective if they affect him and his stooges, and do not play into his hands, like the sanctions on Iraq have done. The chances of fair and free elections in Zimbabwe does seem remote, but would sanctions actually have any effect on that. The history of Europe's attitude towards Africa indicates that the EU should be wary of seeming to impose, in an imperialist and arrogant fashion, sanctions that justify Mugabe's criticisms of outsiders interfering with Zimbabwe.
Jock MacGregor, London, U.K.

It is not our business how an election is carried out in another country, nor is it our business how their laws are legislated or enforced, it is our business, however, where our taxes go for aid. If those running Zimbabwe wish to continue down the path to a totalitarian state, let them. If they want our (the western world) help and/or business they have to tow the line and expalin why we should give these things to them. It is my opinion that far too many people in governmental positions in Africa are terribly corrupt. If they wish to be corrupt, let them be corrupt using their money, not ours.
Stephen, UK

Nobody insisted on sanctions during colonial rule. Nobody insisted on sanctions when the apartheid regime was brutalising South Africa. In fact, Africa is a forgotten continent whenever it comes to western sanctions and the need to deal with repressive regimes. The west should forget sanctions like it always has, alternatively it should seek active involvement throughout the continent. There should be no half measures.
Shane , UK

I have family in Zimbabwe and I recently asked them about the situation in the country. They say the propraganda about the poor white farmers being forced out - is being blown out of proportion. I wish there was some way UK officials spoke to the real people of Zimbabwe. My family have been there all these years and have seen how much money was swindled by the white led government before Mugabe, and the present white farmers are no better.
Dilip, US,UK

Why do you interfere with the internal affairs of a sovereign country just to have your selfish influence in the region? Please note that the days of the Colonialism are gone and you should leave Zimbabwe alone.
N, Ethiopia

I do not think sanctions will achieve the objectives the Europeans think it will achieve. Zimbabwe is already reeling from the effects of no WB, IMF & Donor funds coming into the country.

I think that the best the Europeans can do is to continue supporting Zimbabwe's neighbours and to offer similar support to Zimbabwe once stability returns to the country. Most senior Zimbabwean Government officials have dedicated their entire lives to the liberation of this country. They are driven by principle and no amount of coercion is going to force them to abandon their programs. Their approach is ideological and they will not let the economy stand in the way of achieving their social and political objectives from the war of liberation. The time will come when these leaders will retire (quite soon I think) and younger leaders will take over. This will be the time when this country will focus on real economic growth.
A Zimbabwean, Zimbabwe

With an increasing number of countries worldwide coming under "sanctions", what is to stop these countried from actually co-operating with each other and therefore defying the whole purpose. I think sanctions should be used more carefully.
Hassan, Egypt

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See also:

01 Feb 02 | Africa
Fury at Zimbabwe media curbs
09 Jan 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe adamant on new laws
08 Jan 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe's controversial bills
08 Jan 02 | Africa
Shock defeat for Mugabe
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