By Leslie Chimbama
Harare – The decision by the United Kingdom this week to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe industrialist Kudakwashe Tagwirei is confirmation that Western countries will stop at nothing in their attempt to suffocate the rise of African businesspersons in Africa.
On August 5, 2020, the United States also imposed sanctions on Tagwirei saying he was promoting anarchy in Zimbabwe, without providing a shred of evidence to back up the bald claim.
Since the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe as a nation has been under an illegal Western embargo that has cut off the country’s access to most credit lines, in addition to sanctions being imposed on specific individuals and companies as part of the effort to make the economy scream.
SADC, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament and the Non-Aligned Movement – along with other international organisations and individual countries – have all condemned the sanctions.
In recent years, Zimbabwe’s government has embarked on an engagement and re-engagement drive to normalise relations with Western countries. But the UK has responded by sanctioning one of the country’s top businesspersons.
Tagwirei is accused of creating his empire – which employs thousands of Zimbabweans and is a major tax contributor – on the back of corruption, in addition to “propping up” the government.
On Thursday, the United Kingdom announced that it had unilaterally imposed sanctions on Tagwirei, whose businesses and philanthropy are credited with shoring up Zimbabwe’s energy, agriculture and health sectors, among others.
Interestingly, the sanctions on Tagwirei came a few days after opposition MDC vice-president Tendai Biti said the West should tighten the screws on Zimbabwe, lending credence to the long espoused view that the UK and other Western states directly meddle in the country’s political and economic affairs to advance their own interests.
The UK sanctions on Tagwirei include an asset freeze and a travel ban. In addition, London says the sanctions will also apply to any entities owned or controlled by Tagwirei – a position that has been interpreted in Zimbabwe as a direct assault on the country’s economy.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab claimed that Tagwirei was corruptly benefitting from Government’s initiative, an unsubstantiated claim that has been used by the West to frustrate Zimbabwe’s economic revival efforts.
“He (Tagwirei) profited significantly from the misappropriation of property at the expense of wider macroeconomic stability in Zimbabwe, in one of the most serious incidences of corruption under the current government,” Raab claimed.
“His company, Sakunda Holdings, redeemed government of Zimbabwe Treasury Bills at up to ten times their official value. His actions accelerated the deflation of Zimbabwe’s currency, increasing the price of essentials, such as food, for Zimbabwean citizens.”
The sanctions, said Raab, would ensure that Tagwirei will no longer be able to channel funds through UK banks.
The claim about Treasury Bills is in itself a fig leaf that barely covers the naked economic aggression of the UK towards Zimbabwe, as Raab’s statement demonstrates a lack of awareness of how those instruments function.