The Zimbabwe Government has been responsible for serious human rights abuses that have characterised the human rights situation in the country to date. The call for targeted sanctions and the subsequent imposition by the EU, UK and USA has been met with mixed feelings at home and abroad. The argument posed by those opposed to the targeted sanctions is that they have not had any measurable impact in forcing the Zimbabwean Government to democratise, to respect the rule of law, ensure accountability and good governance in a country that is free from politically motivated violence.
The sanctions have taken the form of travel bans on members of the government and some public officials but have done some unintended damage to the population. It is questionable whether this will contribute towards a democratic state or result in a serious mindset against Zimbabwe as a tourist destination.
As the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum we would like to draw attention to the undemocratic environment in which the population lives, the politically motivated violence that persists, the freefall of the economy which contributes dramatically to the impoverishment of the nation in a country where inflation stands at 7 634%, the highest in the world. None of these realities would be evident to tourists in what is a beautiful country inhabited by wonderfully friendly people; nor is it likely to be of any great concern to tourists as they are not affected by these realities, nor would they wish to be drawn into local politics.
Sanctions on tourism cannot be viewed as a quick fix for a change in governance models in Zimbabwe. It is also clear that it is up to an individual tourist to decide on whether or not to visit countries like Zimbabwe. However, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum believes that sanctions on tourism is one of the necessary tools to see an end to the calamities that have befallen Zimbabwe. As long as the regime and its associates are financially secure they have no incentive to reform.
24 August 2007