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Remove yoke of sanctions so Zimbabwe can breathe

by Staff reporter
24 Oct 2021 at 08:28hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE tomorrow joins the Southern Africa Development community, the wider African continent and other progressive nations of the world in commemorating the Day of Solidarity Against Illegal Sanctions on Harare which was proclaimed by the regional bloc at its 39th Heads of State and Government Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in August 2019.

On this auspicious occasion, Sadc nations will conduct various activities in their respective countries to resoundingly call for the removal of the punitive measures which have strangulated Zimbabwe and impeded its ability to extricate its people from the plethora of challenges they face. We salute Sadc for its solidarity and taking a leading role in the anti-sanctions fight.

The European Union, the United States and other like-minded Western powers imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 following the successful implementation of the historic land reform programme which sought to correct historical imbalances in land distribution and ownership.

The sanctions, which took the form of an arms embargo, travel restrictions for senior Government officials including the President, financial restrictions which have hamstrung business operations and a blanket ban on trade between some key State-owned enterprises and the outside world, have cost the Zimbabwean economy immensely for the past two decades.

Besides isolating Zimbabwe from the rest of the community of nations, the sanctions have severely damaged the country's image, creating a pariah status which the current Government is working feverishly to correct. Since the dawn of the Second Republic in November 2017, the Government has been working hard to get Zimbabwe back into the community of nations by implementing a robust re-engagement policy aimed at shedding the country's reputation of the past and creating new frontiers.

President Mnangagwa has declared that Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none as it forges ahead with reforms on all fronts. In this vein, the country has embarked on an economic renaissance programme coupled with a diplomatic offensive which has seen it engaging with erstwhile foes while consolidating existing relationships with friendly nations.

The move has paid dividends as evidenced by the remarkable progress made in repairing relations with previously hostile nations such as the United Kingdom, the US and their allies. Zimbabwe stands on the threshold of being readmitted into the Commonwealth while President Mnangagwa has been invited to the Conference of Parties (COP) 26 meeting in Glasgow, Scotland between October 31-November 12 where world leaders will gather to discuss climate change mitigation strategies.

While the EU has removed some of the restrictions against Zimbabwe after acknowledging progress made under the Second Republic, the US still maintains its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act — the single most devastating piece of legislation that has wrought misery to the economy. ZDERA prevents Zimbabwe from accessing cheap loans and debt relief from international financial and multilateral institutions while impeding the smooth transaction of business by local companies engaged in trade with institutions outside the country.

Through its Office of Foreign Assets Control under the Treasury Department, the US has through Executive Order 13391 prohibited actions involving imports, exports, trade brokering, financing and facilitation, as well as most financial transactions involving so called specially designated nationals and entities.

Since the US is the host of most multilateral international financial institutions, headquarters of international banks and other entities, Zimbabwean sanctions effectively mean the country cannot trade with other countries smoothly. Conservative estimates put the loss to the Zimbabwean economy as a result of sanctions at US$40 billion in the last two decades.

Sanctions mean Zimbabwe is a high risk country, making investment by foreigners virtually impossible and expensive. Publicly, countries such as the US make postures insinuating that sanctions are targeted at certain individuals in Government and do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans, but local companies, hospitals and other key institutions engaged in service delivery have borne the brunt of the measures as they cannot access critical equipment.

The state of decay of the country's infrastructure such as roads, clinics, water treatment plants, dams and other social services can be directly linked to sanctions as local authorities and other Government agencies are incapacitated to deliver services.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Ms Alena Douhan, who is in the country on a 10-day fact finding mission to evaluate the impact of sanctions on ordinary people, has an opportunity to see first-hand, the devastation caused by the embargo. Her visit, which will see her interact with stakeholders such as civic groups, political parties, the private sector, Government officials and other interest groups, will hopefully shine a spotlight on the negative impact of sanctions and lead to their eventual lifting in total. Ms Douhan delivers her report to the UN Human Rights Council during its 51st session in September next year and we are optimistic that she will present a factual position of the situation on the ground resulting in the world body taking decisive action.

Sanctions violate the human rights of Zimbabweans and prevent them from enjoying entitlements which other people around the world take for granted and we believe it is unfair for powerful nations to be allowed to continue perpetuating a scorched earth policy which has proved to be ineffective and unfair. As a full member of the UN, Zimbabwe enjoys full rights just like other countries including the US and it is grossly unjust for it to be singled out for sanctions when it has demonstrated a willingness to reform and depart from the ways of the past.

We feel it is time the country is given an opportunity to implement its reforms without the yoke of sanctions hanging like an albatross around its neck. President Mnangagwa's administration was elected in a free and fair election in 2018 and represents the dreams, aspirations and wishes of the generality of the people of Zimbabwe. It should be allowed to carry out its mandate without hindrances such as sanctions which violate the UN Charter on the enjoyment of human rights.

Source - The Sunday Mail
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