Sanctions as a Tool for Regime and Policy Change in former Colonies

The case of Zimbabwe

Bachelor Thesis, 2014

33 Pages, Grade: 2.2


Table of Contents




List of Acronyms

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction
1.1 Background to the study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Hypothesis
1.4 Objectives
1.5 Research questions
1.6 Methodology
1.6.1 Desk Research
1.6.2 Interviews
1.6.3 Sampling techniques
1.8.1 Data Analysis
1.9 Justification of the study
1.10 Limitations
1.11 Delimitation

Chapter 2: Literature Review and Theoretical Framework
2.1 Literature Review
2.2 Theoretical Framework

Chapter 3: Major Findings and Data analysis
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Human Rights Abuses
3.3 Policy change
3.3.1 Indigenization and land reform program
3.4 The pursuit of national interests
3.5 The democratization process
3.6 The regime change agenda

Chapter four: Recommendations and Conclusions
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Conclusion
4.3 Recommendations
4.4 Conclusion



To my family, specifically my mother Sitshengisiwe Ndlovu, my brother Nkosilesisa and my young sister Samantha.


I would like to thank the Lord Almighty for blessing me with individuals to guide me in the writing of this dissertation. These include my friends Nomvelo Dube , Sibongile Makuyana and Christabel Dzomba who helped me with the topic selection for this document which had proven challenging in a pool of issues to be researched, as well as providing moral support throughout my research. Shane Nleya and Bekezela Gumbo for constantly helping me with my dissertation especially on the presentation of data and document layout. Most of all I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor Mr Greg Linington for his guidance and constructive comments which have proven most vital for the compilation of data and completion of this document. Special thanks to my mother for financial and moral support in pursuing my academic endeavours and to all those whom I have not identified by names for the support you have given me in the writing of this paper. Your individual comments and inputs were constructive and paramount for the conclusion of this document.


This paper pays particular attention to sanctions as a potential agent of regime change and as an instrument for policy change. The bases for this paper are the debates that were brought by the west as well as by the Zimbabwean government. This incorporate democratization returns to rule law and terminates the culture of human rights abuses. They were the essentials of the sanctioning of Zimbabwe as upheld by the ‘sanctioned

On the other hand the Zimbabwean government have pointed out that sanctions were imposed in order to reverse the land reform and economic empowerment policies as well as remove the government of Mugabe. The research verified the working hypothesis that ‘imposition of sanctions influences government policy change and may trigger unconstitutional regime change’. But can sanctions be seen as a tool for a regime and policy change in former colonies?

The research found out that the policy of sanctions was implemented in Zimbabwe to remove the government of Robert Gabriel Mugabe for different reasons highlighted above both as upheld by Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) and the United States of America and its western counterparts. There have been debates on the reasons Zimbabwe was sanctioned from the international and local spheres. It is on the basis of those debates that this document has come to be.

List of Acronyms

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1.1 Background to the Study

Hove (2012:73) states that sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe as Southern Rhodesia in the sixties for the violation of human rights amongst other infringements. Jordim (1979:44) notes that instead of eradicating the syndrome of human rights abuses, sanctions led to the worsening of the situation they were meant to alleviate. The Rhodesian sanctions were imposed by the United Nations, with the current Zimbabwean sanctions being imposed by individual states and the European block as Russia and China vetoed a resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Chingono (2010:66) states that Zimbabwe received sanctions from the United States of America (U.S.A), United Kingdom (U.K), Australia, Canada and the European Union (U.N) for large scale reports of election violence, alleged human rights abuses ,violation of property rights (ownership) and disrespect for the rule of law. These were allegations levelled at Zimbabwe by the U.S.A and her western allies so as to impose what they called targeted or smart sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet ministers .Chingono defines smart or targeted sanctions as a policy that imposes coercive pressure on specific individuals or activities at the same time reducing economic and social catastrophes on the population and by standers .It will later be assessed whether it is possible to target the government officials of a country and entities aligned to them and not in the process inflict suffering to the population as a whole.

Fowale (2008) notes that Mugabe made an error which also affected the economy such as unbudgeted lump sum compensation to the war veterans, pricey venture into democratic republic of Congo (D.R.C) and the radical nature of the land reform program. Chingono (ibid) asserts that the events leading to the genesis of sanctions was the pronouncement by the government of Zimbabwe to legalize the allotment of land through constitutional amendment. This was done after the 1998 donors land conference had failed to yield expected results leading to locals undertaking to take land forcibly from the whites. The parliament in 2002 (April) passed a constitutional amendment no 16 legalizing acquisition of land by blacks. Chingono points out that the acquisition of land was viewed by the ‘sanctioneers’ as disrespect for property ownership and infringing on human rights thus leading to the imposition of sanctions.

Fowale (2010) quoted by Hove (2012:76) states that the imposition of sanctions was and still is a process. . Fowale (2008) stated that sanctions against Mugabe were unleashed in waves depending on the depth of radicalism. He chronicles the systematic imposition of sanctions .The IMF, under the instigation of Britain and the US, imposed unpublicized sanctions against Zimbabwe. He further elucidates that: the IMF embarked on an anti-Mugabe propaganda, waned off potential investors, froze desperately needed loans to Zimbabwe and refused to negotiate Zimbabwe’s debt Fowle chronicles the systematic imposition of sanctions .Starting in March of 2000,the U.S.A senate passed the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill (Z.D.B) which imposed travel bans and froze assets belonging to president Mugabe and other government officials .It also denied Zimbabwe access to international loans and called her to withdraw forces in DRC and to respect existing ownership titles to property. May 2000, the International Development Association (IDA) withdrew all forms of lending, leaving Zimbabwe desperate for badly needed funds.2001, saw Britain cancel an aid package to Zimbabwe worth five million U.S dollars and the U.S promulgating the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA).In 2003 the US froze assets of seventy seven officials. Zimbabwe was in the same year suspended from the Commonwealth which it later left. President Mugabe is alleged to have stated that “if the choice were made, between Commonwealth and our sovereignty, I would let Commonwealth go’ Hove (2012:76). This statement led to the withdrawal of Zimbabwe from the can be pointed out that President Mugabe’s charismatic character and boldness is proving to be a great challenge for the west to pursue in success their sanctions agenda.

A hundred and twenty-seven people were banned by Australia from doing business with her firms and together with New Zealand as well as Australia lobbied the U.N to indict Mugabe to the International Criminal Court (ICC).In 2005, US President Bush junior signed an ‘executive order’ expanding the number of those affected by US sanctions including thirty- three institutions, a list which further widened following the 2008 election upheavals. The U.S under Barrack Obama promised to lift Zimbabwean sanctions after the outcome of the 2013 elections but went on to extend these sanctions by period of a year citing that they were not free and fair. However, some European countries such as Belgium in 2013 began easing sanctions and re-engaging with Zimbabwe, with some E.U members also following suit although with slow progress. This may be viewed as propagated by the fact that the west was beginning to lose out on economic ventures with China taking over through the government of Zimbabwe’s look East policy which came after Zimbabwe and the West relations became bitter.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The targeted sanctions on the government of Zimbabwe is alleged to have had a direct impact on the general populace rather than the targeted individuals. Ayesha Kajee of Wits University in a discussion with Aljazeera’s Inside Story on the 14th of September 2009( asserted that sanctions have ‘had no effect in pressurizing the elites against whom sanctions were targeted to change the government policy stand point.’, This suggests that the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe had more to do with policy change, that is, policies practicable and applicable in terms of sustaining western policy interests.

The economy of Zimbabwe was affected by these targeted /restricted measures as the government entities could not produce enough to fill supermarket shelves as foreign owned companies relocated to other countries and investors pulled out of government investments. Gunnilla Carlson one of the E.U delegates to Zimbabwe on their first visit to the country since the imposition of sanctions in 2002 and on the formation of the government of national unity (GNU), in an interview with Aljazeera stated that ‘.sanctions are not affecting the economy the way its described.’. She stated this in response to the accusations that the causes of economic crisis in Zimbabwe was a result of the U.S and E.U imposed sanctions. However, Foer ( brings a remarkable challenge to Carlson statement by asserting that sanctions ‘provoke significant economic hardships’. This he stated in relation to the impact of sanctions whatever ‘codename’ they may have. Hence it can be noted that sanctions may have also contributed to economic problems in Zimbabwe.

John Clancy, spokesperson for E.U commission of Development and Humanitarian Aid in a discussion with Aljazeera’s inside story of September 14th 2009 (ibid) stated that political policies and economic policies that have failed over a decade are the reason the international business will not invest in Zimbabwe, not because the E.U has targeted individuals of political elites. However, this assertion by Clancy does not hold water, as it is common knowledge that western governments sanctioned important government entities that played or were key to Zimbabwe’s national economic activities. These entities included the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the Grain and Marketing Board (GMB), Zimbabwe Mineral and Development Cooperation (ZMDC) these were central in Zimbabwe’s economic development. In a discussion with Aljazeera’s Inside Story of February 2013 (www.aljazeeracom), Tafadzwa Musarara chairman of Resource Exploitation Watch asserted that the listing of these institutions on the sanctions page meant that they stopped to effectively provide for the country, hence causing food crisis, with GMB incapable of providing for the people, inflation sky rocketed as the reserve bank was no longer getting loans from World Bank(WB) and international monetary fund (IMF) or African Development Bank leading to huge strain on the RBZ. Furthermore, ZMDC which was and is the major mineral exploiter in Zimbabwe was unable to sell its minerals at a larger scale as a result of sanctions, hence the economy’s recovery with the sanctions in place became impossible.

As a result of sanctions or poor government policies (or the combination of both) government owned schools, hospitals and industries collapsed and those that remained open were in a sorry state. The government failed to pay its civil service resulting in mass exodus of qualified individuals. The education sector crumbled, corruption prevailed, healthcare became for the rich, education for the elite few who could afford private schools. The unemployment rate sky rocketed as the government could no longer afford to employ more people since it was failing to pay the existing civil service. Some scholars attribute this to government policy failure as pointed out by John Clancy. These policies include indigenisation, involvement of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in DRC, unbudgeted exorbitant compensation to war veterans. This Eurocentric view of the Zimbabwean economic crisis, however overlooked the impact of their western imposed policies(came in through WB and IMF) such as the economic structural adjustment programs (ESAPs) that had excruciating effects on the public and the economy as a whole.

Chogugudza (2009:8) pointed out that demolishing of tens and thousands of low income homes through operation Murambatsvina (clean up) also affected the livelihood of impoverished Zimbabweans. However, one can argue that the government of Zimbabwe compensated by building proper homes through Garikai/Hlalani kahle housing scheme that saw the government building proper homes for some of those who were affected by the clean­up .It can be noted therefore that indigenisation ,land distribution policy, operation Murambatsvina were policies aimed at social welfare and improving the living standards of Zimbabwean blacks in light of the sanctions, however, they were poorly implemented thus failing to meet the end goal leaving Zimbabweans worse off. It can be pointed out that Zimbabwe has been on the downward trend since the beginning of the systematic imposition of sanctions in 2002, worsened by the failed western policy of SAPS, with the emergence in 2009 of GNU marking the beginning of western re-engagement also realising the genesis of the country’s economic recovery. Sanctions therefore played a major part in the decline of the Zimbabwean economy, with poor policies (which were meant to counter sanctions) by the government becoming the last stroke that crumbled the economy.

1.3 Hypothesis

Imposition of sanctions influences government policy change and may trigger unconstitutional regime change.

1.4 Objectives

- To investigate the legitimacy of the Zimbabwean sanctions
- To examine the effects of sanctions on the life of Zimbabweans
- To examine the objectives of the United States and European Union in imposing sanctions
- The recommend the way forward for the government of Zimbabwe with or without the lifting of sanctions.

1.5 Research questions

This study aimed at investigating the reasons behind the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe, it strived to answer the following questions:

- Why did the U.S and the E.U impose sanctions on Zimbabwe?
- Were the sanctions a pursuit ofBritish and U.S national interest in Zimbabwe?
- To what extent did they cause economic crisis in Zimbabwe?
- Who was at the receiving end of these sanctions?

1.6 Methodology

In this research a qualitative approach was applied for the gathering of data. This approach was important for this research because secondary sources were easily accessible through the writings of prominent scholars and individuals scrutinizing the sanctions policy of the USA and the European block over the years. The data that or the information used in this research emanated from relevant literature as well as the interviews and discussions done in the media especially from news channels.

1.6.1 Desk research

Desk research and documentary research were the primary methods of data collection utilised for this study. This was, as mentioned above, because the topic of sanctions has been comprehensively examined especially after the imposition of sanctions on the Republic of Zimbabwe. Desk research has been paramount in that due to technology the extraction of interviews and discussions conducted over the years in the international as well as the Zimbabwean media made the research easier to undertake .Thus, the sources quoted in this research emanated from past electronic and print media interviews and discussions with prominent members of the Zimbabwean and international community. These media groups were useful in that they provided me with the views and perceptions on Zimbabwean sanctions from prominent members of different community as well as Zimbabwean leadership that I would not have been able to reach for interviews without technology.

1.6.2 Interviews

Interviews were utilised for this study. The students interviewed were college and university students as well as workers who have been in jobs since or before the imposition of sanction. This target group for interviews were paramount as their level of knowledge and understanding of sanctions were both objective and subjective hence it enabled me to have balanced data.

1.6.3 Sampling Techniques

Random sampling technique was utilised for this research. This technique was important in that it enabled me to pick/ select media interviews and discussions without any preference to the source or the people involved in the discussion. This hence, enabled the unconditional extraction of sources from Press TV, Aljazeera and Zimbabwean as well as international print articles. This enabled me to incorporate divergent views and analyse them with or without affiliation to ‘sanctioneers’ or the sanctioned countries. In interviews it also allowed me to pick any respondent without having affiliation or favour towards his or her political views thus giving me diverse views.

1.6.4 Data Analysis

The data analysis technique used in this research was the comparative data analysis. This analysis technique allowed me to compare data from different sources in order to analyse it. This method was important because the topic of sanctions is subjective, hence in each interview they had to be an element of bias and value laden responses. The major findings I came out with were a result of scrutinized media discussions and then gathering that data so as to point out loopholes strengths, similarities, differences, logic and lack of it thereof from each person involved in a different interview or discussion

1.7 Justification of the Study

There has been some research on Zimbabwean sanctions. However, little research has been done on the real reason behind the imposition of sanctions on the Southern African nation. This research ,henceforth, aims to establish whether the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe since 2000 were imposed justifiable in response to the outcry of human rights abuses and the desire of the west to revive the Zimbabwean economy or it was an attempt to maintain their sliding control over Zimbabwean land, natural resources as well as the socio-political apparatus.

1.8 Limitations

This study faced a number of constraints in data collection .These constraints encompass: unwillingness of respondents to participate in the research due to fear of intimidation as it was political sensitive. Key informants were hard to reach due to governmental and academic engagements hence other alternatives had to be applied. To curb these limitations I relied on document or desk research as it does not emphasise reaching any respondents.

1.9 Delimitations

This study covered the utility of the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe and whether they were imposed as an attempt to oust the government of the day or influence government policy change. It also briefly assessed the effects of sanctions on the general populace and how it contributed to the US and western agenda of policy and regime change.


This study is premised on the concepts of targeted sanctions or smart sanctions. Targeted or smart sanctions are defined by Chingono (2010:70) as imposing coercive pressure on specific individuals and entities and restrict selective products or activities while minimizing unintended economic and social consequences for vulnerable populations and innocent bystanders. Thus the concept of targeted sanctions can be viewed as individualistic, that is, it is not meant to have any impact on any other person or people but only an individual having strayed from norms that are internationally held as moral. The impact of such sanctions however is debatable especially when the targeted people are members of a government. Is it feasible that sanctions can hurt targeted governmental officials without impacting on the governed? Baldauf ( stated that in Zimbabwe the ruling party and the state have tight controls on the resources of the country hence if the leadership is to be sanctioned then it is obvious that the country would suffer.

Thus, loosely translated in an authoritarian state (where the ruling elite control everything) smart sanctions are likely to miss the target and strike the citizens hard. Foer (ibid) points out that even if sanctions don’t topple a regime or end terrorism or human right abuses, they are still smart and may deter future misbehaviour and may provoke significant economic hardships. Thus, impliedly, no matter whether the sanctions achieve the intended objective or not they never fall short of a negative impact on the governed or governing body. Hence, sanctions are detrimental to social, economic and political aspects of any given state.

Chingono (2010:67) points out that the events leading to the genesis of sanctions was the decision by the government of Zimbabwe to constitutionalize the allotment of land through a constitutional amendment. It was a reaction to the 1998 Donors Land Conference that had proven futile leading to the locals undertaking to take land forcibly from the minority. April 2002, the parliament passed constitutional amendment 16 of the constitution legalizing acquisition of land by the black people. This is alleged to have led to the west accusing Zimbabwean government of disrespect to property ownership and abuse of human rights. In the light of sanctions Mugabe is reported having told Blair to ‘.. .keep his England and let me keep my Zimbabwe’, implying that it was high time that the British acknowledge the independence of Zimbabwe and to stop interfering in the affairs of its former colony.


Excerpt out of 33 pages


Sanctions as a Tool for Regime and Policy Change in former Colonies
The case of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Open University  (University of Zimbabwe)
Political Science
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ISBN (Book)
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sanctions, tool, regime, policy, change, colonies, zimbabwe
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Inomusa Ndlovu (Author), 2014, Sanctions as a Tool for Regime and Policy Change in former Colonies, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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