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Sanctions affect ordinary people

17 Oct 2021 at 07:59hrs | Views
IN a week's time, we will have the Anti-Sanctions Day again.

In August 2019, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) declared October 25 as the Anti-Sanctions Day in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, who were slapped with sanctions by the United States, the European Union (EU) and other Western countries in 2001.

The measures were imposed without a United Nations (UN) resolution, which makes them illegal.

Although the sanctions are purportedly targeted at individuals, the socio-economic situation on the ground demonstrates that it is ordinary people who are bearing the brunt of the punitive measures.

The sanctions were imposed ostensibly because of the alleged violence they claimed accompanied the land reform programme in 2000.

However, the measures were meant to punish Zimbabwe for daring to repossess the land.

Although the US insists that the 2001 Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) is about economic recovery and democracy, its effects on the economy have been more destructive than restorative.

The trickledown effect has been felt more by ordinary Zimbabweans.

One has to read what former US Secretary for State for Africa Chester Crocker said to understand the real objective behind ZDERA.

"To separate Zimbabwean people from Zanu-PF, we are going to make their economic scream, and I hope that you, Senators, have the stomach for what you have to do," he said.

Sanctions, therefore, are a political weapon to remove Zanu-PF from power.

They were meant set the people against their own democratically elected Government through paralysing the economy.


Zimbabwe's economy is anchored on agriculture.

The sector provides employment and income to over 60 percent of the population, supplies 60 percent of raw materials required by the manufacturing sector and contributes 40 percent of the country's total export earnings.

Sanctions have made it difficult to access lines of credit and attract investment into the sector.

They have also affected the sector's production and marketing infrastructure, including access to markets.

Lower yields naturally affect food security. Zimbabwe's quest to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) against poverty and hunger was similarly affected.

In fact, the measures are violating Zimbabweans' right to food and decent lives.

Manufacturing, likewise, many factories and plants closed, throwing tens of thousands of workers onto the streets.

It is fair to say for every retrenched worker, about five family members were affected.

This caused the economy to informalise, which negatively affects Government's revenue collection efforts.

It is estimated that an average 1,17 million people were employed in the formal sector during pre-sanctions period, but the numbers declined to 1,03 million per year after.

Between 2005 and 2013, over 400 000 people were retrenched, according to labour surveys.

Of the industries that soldiered on, their capacity fell from 76 percent in the 1980s to an all-time low of 10 percent in 2008.

Following the adoption of multi-currency system in 2009, the sector rebounded to a peak of about 60 percent in 2011 before deteriorating again in 2015.

As of March 2021, capacity has since rebounded to 47 percent.

Zimbabwe has lost over US$42 billion in revenue over the past 18 years because of the sanctions. It has lost bilateral donor support worth around US$4,5 billion annually since 2001, US$12 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and African Development Bank (ADB),  and commercial loans worth US$18 billion.

As a result, the country's GDP shrunk by US$21 billion.

Social services

The health sector suffered, especially through the withdrawal of grants by development partners that feared falling foul of ZDERA.

For example, DANIDA withdrew funding towards health programmes worth US$29,7 million in 2001.

A Swedish government grant worth US$6,4 million was also withdrawn.

This strained the Government's ability to continue delivering high-quality healthcare to ordinary Zimbabweans as before.

DANIDA and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) later pulled out of the country completely.

The impact was quite evident.

The country's infant mortality rate shot from 70/1000 to 132/1000 by 2005.

Reduced funding capacity resulted in the suspension of some programmes such as support to provincial health service capacity building and policy issues to the health ministry, the development of a gender strategy support to HIV/AIDS activities, the integration of Zimbabwe Essential Drugs Action Programme to national laboratories, the establishment of the health information system and the support for the Health Services Fund Transport Management.

The suspension of all these programmes affected and continues to affect ordinary Zimbabweans.

The sanctions just have to go.

As the Government struggled to adequately fund and staff schools, clinics and hospitals, vulnerable Zimbabweans, especially those in rural areas, are being prejudiced. The Government could be doing way better had it not been encumbered by sanctions.

The West's sanctions have crippled the Government's ability to fend for its people and improve their lives — exactly what Crocker said. Fortunately, most Zimbabweans are well aware of what is going, and this is why most people are set to join the region on October 25 to deliver the message that sanctions have to go.

Nobleman Runyanga is a journalist who is passionate about the development of Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on

Source - The Sunday Mail
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