The Institute for Security Studies in South Africa has issued a report saying Western sanctions targeting President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his associates have had little effect on their behavior.
The institute said sanctions have merely weakened the position of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change within the current unity government as sanctions have given hardliners of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF an excuse to stall implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.
“Given that these sanctions have now been instrumentalized by ZANU-PF hardliners, one might even say that they are doing the MDC more harm than good by providing its opponents with a justification for stalling the ongoing negotiations around the full implementation of the GPA,” the report stated.
It added that President Mugabe has very effectively turned sanctions into a propaganda tool. “Mugabe’s manipulative use of terminology by describing smart sanctions as illegal has meant that instead of pressuring Mugabe and his allies, these measures have been taken hostage and are often used as a scapegoat, with the Mugabe government publicly blaming them for the country’s economic decline."
The ISS added that Mr. Mugabe has seized every opportunity to denounce the targeted sanctions as serving the cause of the “imperialists and colonialists,” portraying himself as a hero of the masses.
In doing so, said the institute, Mr. Mugabe has transformed external pressure into political capital, discrediting anyone who supports the smart sanctions as a puppet of the West.
Commenting on the report, British-based scholar Blessing Miles Tendi of Oxford University told VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reporter Blessing Zulu that he agrees sanctions have lacked punch.
But political analyst Joy Mabenge of the South African-based Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe disagreed, saying sanctions have been effective and should be maintained.