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Sanctions devastate rural communities

by Staff reporter
20 Oct 2021 at 06:35hrs | Views
RURAL communities are among the worst areas affected by illegal sanctions as the embargo has led to limited opportunities for communities increasing poverty levels.

Studies have shown that the majority of the country's citizens are resident in rural areas.

When Government embarked on the land reform programme in the early 2000s, its aim was to address the colonial land imbalances where only a handful of whites owned prime land while the black majority were crowded in infertile settlements.

The sanctions are said to have stolen opportunities for a cross section of the population with rural communities not being spared. Before, illegal sanctions were imposed on the country, there was massive industrialisation in urban areas and this led to cities such as Bulawayo earning the industrial hub tag absorbing a lot of young people coming from rural areas.

The industrialisation drive saw rural to urban migration as citizens sought employment in the growing industries in cities.

But two decades ago, when the illegal embargo was imposed on Zimbabwe by the Western countries as a punishment to Government for undertaking to address colonial imbalances, the opportunities that existed for rural communities started to vanish.

Industries that fueled rural urban migration shut down leaving scores of people jobless and unable to support their families.  As a result of sanctions, Government was even forced to derail its plans to construct a clinic within a 5km radius among other social services to its citizens.

Traditional leaders yesterday said people under their jurisdictions have continued to suffer as a result of illegal sanctions.

Chief Masendu from Bulilima District, Matabeleland South said traditional leaders due to their proximity to ordinary people, understand better how illegal sanctions have caused untold suffering to members of the public.

He said sanctions have to be removed as they are hurting ordinary people .  "It is our wish and necessary, considering the communities that we lead that those sanctions be removed. There is nothing that is functional as a result of the illegal sanctions," said Chief Masendu.

"There are no jobs, industries collapsed and even our roads are in bad shape and in all this we blame the illegal sanctions. This is mainly because the country cannot easily attract investment as a result of the illegal sanctions." He said loss of opportunities caused by illegal sanctions is contributing to social ills including drug abuse among idle youths.

His sentiments were echoed by Chief Nyangazonke from Matobo in Matabeleland South who said illegal sanctions were scaling up poverty levels in rural areas.

He said resources in rural areas are being overwhelmed as there is an urban to rural migration due to de-industrialisation in cities.  "They accelerate poverty while derailing development and because of increased poverty levels, we are now having problems of child marriages, where parents marry off their children as they cannot properly raise," he said.

"Sanctions have also contributed to shortage of medicine for livestock and where it is available, it is too expensive.

Rearing livestock is a source of wealth for us as Africans, so the illegal embargo is impacting on our wealth especially those who are into livestock farming. So, these challenges brought by sanctions are worsening the plight of rural communities forcing citizens to migrate to other nations."

Sadc dedicated October 25 as the day to lobby for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe as the effects of sanctions are spilling into their territories.

Chief Mabhikwa from Lupane District in Matabeleland North said sanctions have hindered Zimbabwe in achieving its full potential.

He said rural communities have been worst affected as they hardly benefit from resources within their locality.

"You would agree with me that where I come from there are a lot of resources that can benefit our people but due to the illegal sanctions the country cannot trade with other nations freely.

"The country may be considered a risk investment area as a result of sanctions yet we have minerals that we would leverage in trading with other nations," he said.

"Sanctions are anti-development. They affect all age groups, the young and the elderly alike.

Generations have been affected by sanctions and hence we believe that these sanctions should be removed as they affect the ordinary people yet they are claimed to be targeted on individuals."

Source - The Chronicle