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Sanctions hurting ordinary Zimbabweans

by Staff reporter
04 Oct 2021 at 04:50hrs | Views
Zimbabwe has been on the receiving end of sanctions since 1966, either by the United Nations, United States, the European Union or both, thus qualifying the country for candidacy in the "sanctions industry", which impedes the rights and well-being of ordinary citizens, a scientific study reveals.

The people of Zimbabwe and, indeed, all Africans, speak with one voice against sanctions in the month of October, with the 25th being set aside as the SADC Day against Sanctions.

This year's theme is "Friend to All, Enemy to None: Forging ahead and Enhancing Innovation and Productivity in Adversity of Sanctions".

In a study titled; "Politics of sanctions: Impact of US and EU sanctions on the rights and well-being of Zimbabweans", published in 2015, Chidiebere C. Ogbonna, an academic, researcher, writer and peace facilitator, observes that Zimbabwe has "been sanctioned in six sanction episodes: 1966, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009."

The 1966 episode followed Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11, 1965, which led to the isolation of Rhodesia from the international community.

This makes the Southern African nation "one of the most sanctioned countries in the world," hence, scuppering economic growth, and consequently, threatening the overall welfare of Zimbabweans, and impinging on their rights.  

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, amended in 2018, led to the imposition of economic sanctions on the seemingly small and insignificant Southern African country due to its stance on the land issue.

Highlighting that the Zimbabwean economic landscape is "tragic", Ogbonna avers: "Consequently, the situation threatens human security and also denies Zimbabweans the capabilities to live in dignity as prescribed in the universal declaration of human rights."

"I agree that they are instruments permitted by the UN Charter; however, the use of economic sanctions contradicts the UN declaration of human rights, which emphasises the "right to live in dignity."

Scholars agree that economic sanctions, which the United Nations has referred to as a "tool for all seasons," lead to terrible humanitarian concerns.

They argue that economic sanctions rob citizens of a target State the right to live in dignity.

Ogbonna maintains that, although there may be other issues on which economic decline could be blamed, sanctions contributed "immensely in setting the economic clock of Zimbabwe backwards."

Worry-warts may go to town about "bad politics", governance matters and corruption, which in all fairness cannot be ignored, but as the study observes, no nation state can go it alone.

"The world system is interrelated, and States are embedded in the system. Therefore, it is inappropriate to argue that sanctions have no effects on the economy of a sanctioned State," Ogbonna points out.

Even at the communal level none is an island. Africans believe in communal ownership of amenities — they share — that is what makes them one.

They believe that no man is an island, therefore, they share salt, maize meal, wells, boreholes, grazing land, sorrows, joys and other such facilities that keep them going.

So, when they hear that one of their own has been targeted not to use such amenities key to his family's well-being, it is not lost on them that his children suffer more.  

Collective wisdom informs Africans that a villager's children are theirs too.

As an African, Ogbonna is conscious of that shared wisdom. Hence, he explores the impacts of sanctions on Zimbabwe's economy, and consequently, on the country's ordinary citizens, especially "the most vulnerable, such as the sick, disabled, elderly and pregnant women."

He examines the direct impact of sanctions on human rights and well-being of Zimbabweans, as well as their bearing on socio-economic progress.

Concerning human rights, he attests that sanctions impact on the rights to healthcare, education and quality standard of living, which, on the overall, affects social welfare.  

Key economic factors like inflation, access to foreign currency and foreign direct investment (FDI), are impacted negatively by the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries, claiming them to be targeted.

The social impact of sanctions on ordinary citizens, whose only crime is being Zimbabwean — a sovereign people — cannot be overemphasised. Like everyone else, they are citizens of a country inhabited by fellow human beings with dreams and aspirations.

They desire to have a choice on who should govern their affairs without being coerced through politics of the stomach.

Ogbonna affirms: "In essence, sanctions are formulated as general prohibitions to carry out certain transactions, or activities with target States, particularly those that will provide them with economic benefit."

He argues that the said targeted sanctions by the US and the EU against Zimbabwe "aggravate the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans," adding that instead of inspiring change and prosperity, sanctions inflamed relations between Harare and the West.

The study concludes that "reconciliation is achievable if the big and influential players in international diplomacy explore soft and flexible strategies of engagement.

"These include persuasive and continuous negotiation that incorporates all parties to the conflict, rather than relying on coercive measures, such as economic sanctions, as a means of resolving conflict."

Source - The Herald