Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Zimbabweans take anti-sanctions drive to UNGA

24 Sep 2019 at 19:17hrs | Views
Walking along a dusty and rainfall-damaged gravel road which has not been attended to for nearly two decades deep in Chikomba District, Mbuya Mhizha makes her way to Gokomere Clinic to have her troublesome tooth attended to. There are no lifts on the road as the owners are worried about damages to their vehicles therefore she has to walk in the blistering October sun. She passes near Nyahoni Irrigation Scheme where virtually nothing is taking place. This irrigation scheme used to be the pride of Njanja where wheat and maize among other crops were grown in winter drawing water from Nyahoni river. On reaching the clinic Mbuya Mhizha is informed that there is no medication to give her to relieve the pain.

The above scenario is what most Zimbabweans are going through due to the effects of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) following the country's land reform programme which redistributed land to the majority of Zimbabweans to correct colonial land ownership imbalances. This move by the Government of Zimbabwe attracted a backlash for Harare which came in the form of Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) and soon followed by the financial transactions restrictions by Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFA C) which makes it a punishable offence to make transactions on behalf of specified entities and individuals.

Sanctions against Zimbabwe are not a gimmick as some people want the world to believe. The way these sanctions were couched was in such a clever way which saw strategic persons and companies being put on the illegal embargo. True to their nature, the illegal sanctions have seen many companies close shop in the last two decades whilst those lucky enough to survive having been barely holding it together.

Zimbabweans have realised that enough should be enough and have taken their anti-sanctions demonstration to the United Nations General Assembly 74th Session to let the whole world know what they are going through on a daily basis owing to the vagaries of the punitive sanctions.

The country's economy is anchored on agriculture and mining. Until October 2016, ZB Bank and Zimbabwe Fertilizer Company were on the sanction list. What this mean is that ZFC could not import the necessary ingredients to manufacture fertilizer which is an important ingredient in crop farming. On the other hand ZB Bank was instrumental in providing the necessary funding to the productive sector. Another blow is that Agribank which has been offering a vast array of loans to farmers is still on the sanction list.

In the mining sector, which is capital-intensive; players are facing challenges in importing efficient mining equipment. Most financial institutions are not willing to process such transactions fearing the punitive backlash from the US through the use of OFAC in seizing the funds. To this end, CBZ, Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays have been fined US$385million, US$18 million and US$2.48 million respectively for processing payments on behalf of sanctioned financial institutions such as ZB.

Infrastructural development has been hampered. The case of damaged roads cited in the introduction to this piece is what the travelling community is facing on a daily basis. Local authorities as well as the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development are failing to import the necessary road making equipment or spare parts which is adversely affecting road construction and maintenance.

To this end, Zimbabwe has lost a cumulative US$42 billion worth of revenue due to sanctions. If the country had realised this amount of money over the years, it could be somewhere better economically. This impacts negatively on the production side and has taken deep on the health sector where pharmaceutical companies are failing to meet the nation's drugs requirements. This has really contributed to the shortage of even pain killers at most health centres.

The deep-seated sanctions are crafted in such a way that they prevent those outstanding companies in the US and EU from doing business with certain entities linked to Government or are owned by ZANU-PF members. What this means is that such businesses will eventually collapse which affects the general public across the spectrum.

Commenting on the sanctions issue twitter user, Lerato Mhlanga said "(United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean lawyer and lecturer) Dr (Alex) Magaisa, sanctions are designed to benefit the sanction imposers. The British can choose to buy stuff from Zimbabwe when it suits them, but Zimbabwe is not free to operate in the Global Financial System. If the sanctions have no effect, why are they not being removed?"

"An injury to one is an injury to all", has become the SADC countries' clarion call in rallying behind Zimbabwe in its anti-sanctions drive. The SADC countries have set 25 October 2019 as the Anti-Zimbabwe Sanctions Day. True to spirit of togetherness, the countries in the region will host events to call for the immediate and unconditional removal of the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

On Saturday, 21 September 2019, Zimbabweans living in the US joined hands in demonstrating against the sanctions. The diasporans were joined by the fearless and strong ally of Zimbabwe, the December 12 Movement in calling for the removal of the punitive sanctions and letting Zimbabwe choose its own destiny, like who to trade with and so forth.

As President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) tomorrow, he is going to dwell much on the issue of sanctions explaining to the whole world how the embargo has affected the whole country.

Source - Elijah Chihota
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.