|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Zimbabwe: Will sanctions make a difference?
UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has announced that Britain will refuse all new licences for exporting arms and military equipment to Zimbabwe as part of its reaction to continuing violence in the country.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Mr Cook said Britain nor any other donor would fund a programme of land reform in Zimbabwe unless it is conducted within the rule of law.
But President Robert Mugabe has reacted defiantly, saying that "no sanction of whatever nature can make us desist from our quest for land".
What do you think? Are sanctions the answer? Will they make a difference? Should further sanctions be considered?
Dipta K. Bandyopadhyay, USA
Sanctions are not going to help drive this dictator out of government. Mugabe has already demonstrated his willingness to let Zimbabweans suffer if it serves his purpose and keeps him in power. Anyhow, if things get a bit too rough in Zimbabwe he can always retire to his castle in Scotland.
The trouble in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with race or land. It has to do with Mugabe losing the election on the 24-25 June. Then he may become accountable for what he has done to the country over the past 20 years.
Mugabe's victims are both black and white. Don McKinnon is very naive if he thinks that the elections will be fair and free. They will appear fair and free to an observer, but all the damage will have been done in advance, with voters fearing the shooting of family members in retaliation if the government loses.
Joseph Merka, Zimbabwean student in the Netherlands
Whatever is discussed regarding the manner in which Mugabe is dealt with, what cannot be denied is Robin Cook's pathetic and gutless approach to the Mugabe issue.
He has been completely out-gunned by this tyrant. Before we talk about sanctions, we need to ensure that Robin Cook no longer plays a part in this arena. The man hasn't got a clue as to the type of character he is dealing with.
If people so desperately want land in Zimbabwe, it is because Mugabe has created a situation in which it is virtually impossible for the average person to earn a living. High unemployment and rampant inflation give people no alternative but to turn to the land in order to live.
Sanctions will never work. They will only drive Mugabe into more confrontation with Britain. What Britain and other western countries need to do is to divulge what assets Mugabe and his cronies have abroad. They need to tell the Zimbabweans how many billions these guys have siphoned out of Zimbabwe and stashed in Swiss accounts.
What difference will sanctions make? Mugabe's made his point. He's gained ground that none of his opponents can recover. He's demonstrated to the whites that he can scare them to their core any time he wants. Not even his black opponents could or would undo that.
Sanctions will not be enough. Mugabe seems to be destroying the economy on purpose. Perhaps it is part of the grand scheme of chaos and terror as a base for power. One solution is the one that George Bush used against Noriega in Panama when he was terrorising the opposition. A lightning attack with the extraction of Mugabe, Hunzvi and a pre-prepared list of those Zanu members who have been involved in the terror.
Des Currie, South Africa
I don't think that sanctions will do any harm at all. They will just buy the arms from elsewhere
Looking at all the comments on this issue so far, I have no doubt that majority are British, either in England or living in Zimbabwe and pretending to be Zimbabweans. When the Europeans were grabbing and distributing Zimbabwe land, as if it was a Christmas turkey, no one ever said a word in Britain. I abhor violence, but I think the protesters are doing the fine job. It is time that people get their land back. It will soon happen in South Africa and Namibia!
Economic sanctions would have very little impact on Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean economy is already in tatters, with little or no foreign currency available. There is no investment coming into the country and little is being exported. How then, can sanctions make a difference? If they cannot afford to import goods, what difference would economic sanctions make?
Any form of sanctions against Zimbabwe would have to be all encompassing, not just economic.
The first item on any agenda should be the immediate freezing of Mugabe's assets outside of Zimbabwe and the issue of a warrant for his arrest for crimes against humanity. If they can do this with Molosovic, then why not Mugabe?
I think freezing the ministers' assets and using them as a bargaining tool would be far more effective. If assets are seized without compensation, the owners can be compensated with the stolen millions sitting in foreign bank accounts. Hit them where it hurts most - they aren't interested in the land!
The land issue in Zimbabwe has become such a big one as a large percentage of the population see land ownership and tenure as the only reasonable way of attaining economic stability for them and their families. Were it not for the gross mismanagement of the economy and the massive corruption of the Mugabe regime which has led to economic collapse of the country, many of those who now need land to survive would have recourse to employment and business. Sanctions will hurt the already impoverished, and will inflate the land issue even further. Freezing Mugabe's international assets as well as those of his cronies will hit the perpetrators where it hurts.
Blair and Cook are babes in the woods. With every feeble move they make, Mugabe has a better answer. You cannot negotiate with tyrants as the white farmers will soon find out. Tyrants need to learn that they cannot hide under the cover of national sovereignty. Haven't the Brits learned anything from Munich and Chamberlain? You need to bring back Maggie Thatcher for no nonsense results.
First of all, I would like to make it clear that I do not support the violence and 'land repossession' in Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe should pray for a fair election, so that a dictator, who does not know when his time is up, will be defeated, and new ideas and faces will take over. However, I ask, how is it that in an African country, a predominantly black nation, white people own 75% of the land? Has anyone stopped to think how they got the land?
Hence the need for President Mbeki to keep calm and cool and hold thumbs that Mugabe is ousted in an election, whether free or not...
Give President Mbeki a break, he is a hero given the parameters he has too operate under and is trying hard to prevent Zimbabwe blowing up in our faces...
Noel Petzer, South Africa
Robin Cook's idea to introduce sanctions on Zimbabwe because of the violence, presumably towards both white and black Zimbabweans, is a stroke of genius. In fact I think the UK should introduce sanctions in all countries of the world where there is currently any fighting or other type of violence occurring. I think it's great that we are concentrating on one man, Mugabe, rather than on the wider political, social and economic injustices (of which land is only a part) that he uses to fuel his ambition. Take away the fuel and the fire dies.
Sanctions don't work. Never did and never will. They are just a lame excuse that "something is being done" aimed for internal political use, but they never achieve anything good, only cause more trouble.
Gordon Jamieson, Great Britain
We all know what the core of the problem is here, Mugabe is desperately trying to hang on to power and he'll rape the country further to make sure his party stays in control. The only way to stop him is to affect him directly and freeze his personal assets. Zimbabweans have suffered enough through mis-management of the economy. Hit those who are responsible.
Brian Jackson, Zimbabwe/USA
Why is everyone so scared to say Mugabe is an insane criminal? If he were a petrol pump attendant and behaved in such a loony manner he would be locked up. Grow up and face reality
By forcing sanctions onto Zimbabwe it will result in retaliatory measures being enforced by the government. Mugabe is not at all concerned what kind of effects his decisions will have on the country, just as long as he keeps raping Zimbabwe of everything that it has.
Dominic Hone, South Africa
Sanctions probably will not work in Zimbabwe. I personally don't think land reform is the main concern in Zimbabwe.
Yes sanctions will work and pretty quickly. Zimbabwe has a black middle class with a taste of Western Life. There were enough whites in Rhodesia who could keep the country going then. There are to few now. Call me racist or what you like but facts are facts which you cannot hide from. Peter Hain is involved. Maybe is scared as he has pushed South Africa down the same road. More deaths have occurred in tribal fighting in Kwazulu Natal than in the Bosnian conflict.
Yes, more sanctions can only make these people take the rest of the world seriously. Surely any sort of aid to Zimbabwe only condones what they are doing. If the land does not legally belong to these farmers then it should be taken away within the law if they have laws!
The democratic rule is that the majority must have its way. If the majority are bent upon theft and murder how can self-proclaimed democracies apply sanctions? Personally, I prefer meritocracy.
Sanctions alone will not work and the British government is right to hold back further money for land reform. The British taxpayer has had enough of the corrupt racist dictator Mugabe. Our money so far has been squandered and future land reform must benefit the people and be linked to a proper agricultural return.
Sanctions will not change the gangster ways of the ruling party, it will only give Mugabe and his people the opportunity to label the British as being the ruthless ones, although there are many ways of pressuring Mugabe and his government.
This will also show whether Mugabe has his people at heart of which I doubt it because that man is a dictator just like General Pinochet. Sanctions will really work if we want to bring sanity to this man. It's better for Zimbabwe to be destroyed by sanctions than for it is to be destroyed by one arrogant man who does not care about the welfare of his people.
Zimbabwe should have Military Sanctions, also deny Mugabe freedom to move about internationally, freeze his assets abroad. We Zimbabweans also need international monitoring during the voting for a free and fair election.
White Zimbabweans should leave now, while they still can. If sanctions are put in place, Mugabe will retaliate harshly. Why don't others leave Africa alone to work out its own problems. After all, this is an internal affair and who gave Europe the right to butt in?
It is alleged that they have stolen millions from the people of Zimbabwe. That should be thoroughly investigated by an international tribunal and justice should be allowed to run its course. For now though, impose sanctions only against the perpetrators, not the victims.
Laurie, South Africa
I do not think that any form of sanctions against Zimbabwe will work, they will be as effective as all the verbal "diplomatic" condemnation, and all the "strongly worded" messages that Mugabe has received. He (Mugabe) clearly has no regard for what the West, East or other African leaders may say to him, his answer "You do not understand the complexities of the situation." We all can see that this whole land issue is more of a struggle to retain power than an issue of land reform.
The current crisis in Zimbabwe has barely made the news in the United States where people are becoming bored with African events. Mugabe, and other African despots, should take note of this trend as his Country falls into anarchy and poverty.
The "West" has tired of many of Africa's violent and inhuman regimes. "Leave them to their parochial affairs," has become common opinion. These despotic regimes are stuck in the 19th century and have no way of acquiring the wealth that the West has attained until they join the league of humanity.
Neil Hastings, USA
I'd rather pay for all those persecuted in Zimbabwe to come and live in Britain rather than feather the nest of that Dictator. We should invite those persecuted thousands to Britain, help them settle here and let that banana republic rot in its own corruption.
Matt Garvey, UK
Was all the anger and disgust voiced against the South African apartheid government about race or democracy? If it was about democracy, then the world should be as merciless with Mugabe. If it was only about race, does that mean that the life of a Black opposition supporter in Zimbabwe is less important because his killer is a Black government supporter?
It is time that the UN and other Govts around the world realised that even complete and total sanctions don't work. Iraq, Cuba, South Africa are all striking examples of the failure of such methods to remove the rogue leaders of these countries.
As a final thrust, gather the evidence needed to put him where one puts all criminals...in the slammer. The man has shown that he is ruling by illegitimate means, so the question is not "should he go" but "how do we get him out". And the sooner the better.
A Tiddy, Australia
Han de Min, Netherlands
If the objective of the UK's sanctions are to either dislodge Mugabe or force him to adopt a more conciliatory approach on land reform (or both) I believe these objectives are already doomed. Why? Because Robin Cook has allowed himself to be completely outmanoeuvred by Mugabe who has now firmly planted this issue in the minds of his people as a Zimbabwe versus "London knows best" dispute.
Military sanctions will not work. Our best strategy now is to evacuate the white population and let the Zimbabwean economy collapse as a clear warning to South Africa.
Sanctions would not work unless supported by the South African government. So far it has only applied nudge-nudge wink-wink diplomacy to this accelerating tragedy. This soft approach is likely to be maintained, to the detriment of both countries.
It's become too easy for powerful nations to use the sanctioning tactics to try and force despot governments to reform their political practices. Sanctions are not the answer. The answer lies in dialogue and, of course, monetary awards for the farmers who may lose their land as well as for the people who have been landless for many years.
Roger James, USA
A free and fair election will make a bigger difference than sanctions. The very least the international community needs to do is to send mediators to man the polling stations so that Zimbabweans feel safe voting for who they support. Intimidation is a real problem and we should not be distracted from this.
Britain is right to stop the sale of arms to Zimbabwe, but I'm not confident that
economic sanctions will help. Sanctions usually end up punishing the victim, not the offender. Sanctions did not bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa.
The only real way to deal with the violence in Zimbabwe is a show of force.
I just came back for spending a week in Bulawayo. Everyone, white and black, agree that land redistribution needs to occur. It's not a question of if, but how. Mugabe is tragically playing the race and land cards for his own political purposes. Zimbabwe has such potential, it's a shame. My deepest fear is that a civil war between political parties, not a race war will be the unfortunate outcome of Mugabe's insatiable need for power. Isn't 20 years enough?
Did sanctions help to oust any dictator? Fidel Castro who has being feeling pretty comfortable despite almost 40 years of the US sanctions is only one of many examples. Some other way needs to be found to get rid of these dictators.
Yes, sanctions are part of the answer. While intimidation and violence against the opposition continues, farms and companies are still being invaded and the rule of law is not upheld it's the only non violent answer left with which the world can pressurise the sane forces (if any) left in Zanu-pf. If elections are not held, postponed to a non existent date or won by Zanu through fraud I would suggest immediate total sanctions until an invasion by neighbouring countries such as South Africa to reinstate law and order in order to organise free and fair elections.
A ban on the export of arms to Zimbabwe is hardly sanctions is it?
I would consider a ban on the export of military equipment to be merely an ethical
Considering how effective sanctions have been at solving other problems it should be clear that they won't work here. At the same time it only makes good sense to not trade arms etc. with Zimbabwe until the present crisis runs its course. Use the sanctions, but don't hold out the false hopes that they will cause any change in the policies of Mugabe.
Robin Cook has made a complete hash of things over Zimbabwe. He has allowed Mugabe to dress himself in his Freedom Fighter outfit, casting the UK once more as a colonial power. The UK government should have gone for an international response to put pressure on Mugabe.
Brian Jackson, Zimbabwe/USA
Everybody was keen on sanctions on South Africa, Iran, Yugoslavia etc (and indeed Rhodesia). It is always the innocent that suffer (Mugabe has a Harrods account so he isn't too worried about when Zim has no food because the agricultural sector is in ruin). It is up to the people of the country to vote him out of office (if they get the chance). The best way would be to freeze all of Mugabe's personal assets worldwide.
Sanctions won't stop them taking the farmland. Sadly we will hear all about Zimbabwe again soon after when the new farm owners realise that stealing a farm does not give you the know how to run it. That's when Zimbabwe will starve and become an international disaster.
It's high time that the Commonweath do something, anything, to rein in this despot. Britain applied sanctions against Ian Smith's Rhodesia (in retrospect a paradise for both black and white compared to today's Zimbabwe) but to little effect. What would be more meaningful is condemnation and sanctions from neighbouring African states. The silence from these aged cronies of Mugabe is truly deafening but will continue as long as this is perceived as a black vs. white issue. In the end it will take direct action by black Zimbabweans to save their country from utter ruin and that hasn't happened yet anywhere in Africa.
James Denning, UK
The issue at stake is not racial, black versus white. The issue is not about land for the masses. The issue is not about a minority group occupying the majority of arable land. The issue is not about the rights and wrongs of the past. These are smokescreens designed to divert attention from the poor state of the economy in the pursuit of political power.
The issue at stake causing the crisis and threatening democracy in Zimbabwe is very simply, retention of political power.
Ask anyone who has been beaten and assaulted, as to what was the cause of the attack. The answer will be without variation, actual or perceived support for the opposition party. If you believe that the crisis is about white ownership of land, get out of the comfort and safety of your armchair, and visit a rural area in Zimbabwe and wear an opposition party T-shirt.
F. Mvarume, Zimbabwe
David's comment is very good. However, remember that the root of all political ambition is to have control of resources without having earned it first.
I think that military sanctions are a good thing as it will help cut down our military budget. However, I think that total sanctions on Zimbabwe will give Mugabe more power. I am sure that he will initially kick out all the reporters and journalists in Zimbabwe, and then run the country exactly how he pleases - into the ground and killing all opposition.
Other Talking Points:
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy