United States / European Union 'Sanctions' and the Contestation for Political Space in Zimbabwe, 2000 to 2012
Musiwaro Ndakaripa

Using Hossein Askari’s imperialist and David Cortright’s collective persuasion sanctions theories respectively, this article examines the efficacy of the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) ‘sanctions’ on Zimbabwe’s political landscape. The Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) depicts the sanctions as a Western imperial strategy to cause economic hardships on the Zimbabwean people so that they would replace it from power with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) through elections or violence. The party also view the sanctions as illegal punitive measures imposed on the country by the US and EU for embarking on the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) in 2000 which resulted in white farmers losing land. On the other hand of the debate the MDC parties, US and EU view the sanctions as collective persuasion measures meant to compel ZANU-PF to respect democratic principles, human rights, rule of law, and improve governance. Basing on primary sources, this article argues that, rather than compelling ZANU-PF to reform, sanctions have hardened the party’s attitude towards the US, EU and the MDC. This study also observes that sanctions made the country's political crisis more complex as they provide ZANU-PF with justifications for the country's economic crisis and its refusal to implement democratic and governance reforms. The article concludes that sanctions, whether comprehensive or targeted, have serious shortcomings as an instrument of checking state delinquency.

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