I continue to face criticism from ignorant Zimbabweans who accuse me of boasting about ZASM’s role in removing sanctions. Through these engagements, what I have discovered is that this criticism is a reflection of the fact that our people are envious, ungrateful, and suffer from low self-esteem.

This mentality makes it difficult for them to accept that a black Zimbabwean can be a millionaire or billionaire, like Kuda Tagwirei, without stealing. It makes them struggle to accept that a nobody like me, who was once dismissed as a madman ranting on social media, could have planned and implemented a strategy that forced a superpower like the US to remove sanctions on our nation.

What many don’t realize is that this skepticism and petty jealousy does not affect us who are getting things done, but it deprives the detractors and future generations of role models who they can look up to, to make them believe in themselves. It is also why you see that, even those who have succeeded in politics or business, often prioritize their own interests over the needs of the people, because the people are ungrateful.

In the process, many become angry when they see former liberation fighters get into positions of power and only working to advance themselves without thinking about the people.

However, they forget that many of these liberation fighters were mocked when they decided to make the sacrifice of starting the liberation movement. And during that time, many of the parents of those who expect to be invited to the table to benefit from liberation had parents who were collaborators with the colonizer, and some enjoyed their lives working in Rhodesia without assisting the liberators who were sacrificing their lives.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that irrespective of whether people believe or not, ZASM implemented a very effective strategy that forced the US government to remove sanctions on 16 million people. This achievement is historic, given that no country has ever successfully got the US government to remove its sanctions without capitulating to US demands or being destroyed by the US, as happened to the Nazis, Imperial Japan, USSR, Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq and others. So, how did a mere ZASM remove US sanctions on Zimbabwe?

1. Before the creation of ZASM, in 2018, I created an organization called Zimbabweans Unite Against US War Sanctions and began an anti-sanctions campaign. One of the security services of the country (Zimbabwe) saw this campaign and invited me for a meeting in Harare. Before I went to Harare, I shared my strategy with the contact person from that security department, which had invited me.

2. As part of this strategy, considering that the Zimbabwean government had been portrayed as an oppressive government from which Zimbabweans needed to be liberated, I had proposed the mobilization of the innocent civilians of SADC and the AU into the fight against US sanctions, since they were the ones suffering under sanctions, in order to gain global solidarity.

3. On the 16th of January, 2019, I arrived in Harare for my meeting with the security team. There, I met with the head of the department who passed me to his senior management. From here I was offered the opportunity to work with them in a new department they were creating. Negotiations went on for some time, culminating in a second meeting in Johannesburg, but we could not agree on terms, and I especially did not want to lose control of my anti-sanctions fight, so I let the opportunity go, despite my desire to work for my country.

4. From here, ZANU PF quickly began to implement some elements from the strategy I had written. Where I had asked for permission to blockade the US embassy with mounds of soil to block entry and exit from the embassy. I never got permission, but we saw the Broad Alliance Against Sanctions begin to camp outside the US Embassy. Where I said that, because the government of Zimbabwe has been portrayed as a rogue government that the people of Zimbabwe needed to be freed from, hence we should mobilize the citizens of Zimbabwe, SADC, and Africa who were suffering under these sanctions to champion the fight against sanctions. The government and SADC, in August of 2019, reached a resolution to march against sanctions every October.

5. Meanwhile, I began to make a lot of noise about sanctions on Zimbabwe on social media. This earned me my first interviews on mainstream TV in South Africa, China, the US, and Zimbabwe.

6. I also began writing the largest body of intellectual write-ups on Zimbabwean sanctions on the internet. To this day, no other Zimbabwean writer appears first in Google search results or You Tube for Zimbabwean sanctions, the type of sanctions on Zimbabwe and the impact of those sanctions, more than my articles on the ZASM website and my own Iamrutendo website.

7. The above activities began to attract the attention of other US media outlets like Break Through TV, which features Rania Khalek, the most famous presenter on sanctions. It also attracted Black News Network from Philadelphia, which unfortunately folded after doing an amazing story on Zimbabwean sanctions.

8. Break Through TV then made a documentary on Zimbabwean sanctions. Another famous content-creating channel, Redfish, did the same, and these documentaries, which received over 7 million views, created global awareness of the fact that the US government had illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe and that these sanctions were causing a humanitarian crisis.

9. This attracted humanitarian organizations, humanitarian lawyers, and even the US government, which sent agents to talk to us about why we claimed US sanctions were violating 16 million human rights. That conversation led to these agents writing a report to Congress on the issues we raised.

10. On May 25, 2021, one month after our conversations with the US agents, the Chairman of the Congress Subcommittee on Human Rights, Health, and Organization, Karen Bass, wrote an email to POLAD to alert them that they would be undertaking a human rights impact assessment of their sanctions on Zimbabwe.

11. The subcommittee also asked for a report from POLAD on the impact of these sanctions on health and human rights in Zimbabwe, and POLAD in turn contacted me to provide one of my write-ups on the subject.

Now, a question arises, how else would I have all this intricate detail on such events, if I was not at the center of them?

12. After their assessment, the subcommittee wrote a report informing the U.S. Congress and the President that their executive order sanctions were hurting civilians, depriving them of healthcare and basic human rights, and advised that they needed to be removed to avoid having the U.S. embarrassed in international courts.

13. Consequently, after great deliberation, the same executive order sanctions were removed on March 4, 2024, with the U.S. government saying it wanted to refocus its sanctions away from civilians to those who it alleged were violating human rights.

14. In 2019, ZUAUWS, which later became ZASM, made a report to the UN Human Rights Council complaining about U.S. sanctions and how they were violating human rights. We then invited them to come and undertake an impact assessment.

15. In September 2021, the UNHRC came to undertake an impact assessment of U.S. sanctions on Zimbabwe. Consequently, they came up with a report condemning these sanctions as illegal and violating human rights.

16. In February 2022, ZASM launched a case against South African banks and the U.S. government in South Africa.

17. This case, alongside our lobbying of the South African government, to make them understand that U.S. sanctions were the cause of the influx of Zimbabwean refugees, turned the South African government into the biggest champion against U.S. sanctions.

18. Additionally, we also convinced the ANC government to denounce the opposition party of Zimbabwe that called for these illegal sanctions (CCC: Citizen Coalition for Change), and by doing so, that opposition lost its support from the most important government on the African continent.

19. By turning the South African government’s policy on the opposition, in August 2023, when the opposition tried to dispute Zimbabwean elections -instead of going to court, in an effort to push and convince SADC to force another GNU (Government of National Unity) on Zimbabwe- they received no support from the superpower of SADC. Not long after, CCC began to disintegrate from internal fights.

20. Our documentaries also got international human rights lawyers like Canadian litigator John Philpot of Sanctions Kill and lawyers from the African bar (AFBAR) to join us in planning to take the U.S. to the international court.

21. U.S. civil society organizations like CASI (Committee of Anti-Imperialists in Solidarity) also joined our fight by hosting a Tribunal Against U.S. sanctions, which they used to lobby Congress and which they planned to use to launch lawsuits against the U.S. government for perpetuating imperialism.

All these were part of an integrated series of activities that ZASM systematically and methodically undertook to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe. Hakuzi kuzviphonera, it’s just how things played out for Zimbabwean sanctions to be removed.

Written by Rutendo Matinyarare, Chairman of ZASM.

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