Remove sanctions in total to assist economic recovery
ZIMBABWE has been under the yoke of sanctions for close to two decades now and the punitive measures have not only strangulated the performance of the country’s economy but have also significantly lowered the quality of life of the average citizen. While couched as targeted, sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States of America, Britain and their allies have made it difficult for ordinary people and business entities to conduct transactions outside the country mainly because of the high risk rating accorded to Zimbabwe and the threat of blacklisting those that wish to do business with Zimbabweans encounter.
New York and London are the world’s capitals in terms of international financial transactions and millions of dollars channelled through these cities as payment for Zimbabwean products have been frozen simply because they were destined for this country.
The fallacy that the sanctions are targeted at Zimbabwean Government officials and are only meant to restrict them from travelling have been laid bare by the numerous complaints lodged by private businesspeople who find it difficult to transact with overseas markets as red flags are raised each time they try to enter into deals with international corporations. Zimbabwe has been re-engaging the European Union and has had some sanctions lifted but the bloc still maintains an economic embargo which restricts Zimbabwean entities from doing business with EU nations.
The US is still to repeal the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act a damaging piece of legislation which has done more to wreck the country’s economy than the recovery it purports to champion. Zidera bars all international financial institutions in which the US has representation or shareholding from cooperating with Zimbabwe.
On Wednesday, President Mugabe threw down the gauntlet at the United States, Britain and their allies to remove ruinous sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in total as they are stifling efforts to implement the national economic blueprint — Zim-Asset — itself the pathway to fulfilling the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Cde Mugabe said Zim-Asset contained objectives in tandem with the SDGs, which are also referred to as Agenda 2030. Zim-Asset came into force in 2013, two years before the global community agreed to adopt the SDGs.
However, the continued imposition of illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe by the United States and its allies were making it difficult to roll out the programme as envisaged, President Mugabe noted. He highlighted the injustice of the sanctions and demanding an end to the illegal regime. “Our task of domesticating Agenda 2030 has been made relatively less challenging in that the vision and aspirations of our national economic blueprint and the global agenda are basically the same.
“Our biggest impediment to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda is the burden of the punitive and heinous sanctions imposed against us by some among us here,” the President said.
“My country, Zimbabwe, is the innocent victim of spiteful sanctions imposed by the United States and other powers and these countries have for some reason maintained these sanctions for some 16 years now. As a country, we are being collectively punished for exercising the one primordial principle enshrined in the United Nations Charter, that of sovereign independence. We are being punished for doing what all other nations have done, that is, possessing and owning their natural resources, and listening to and responding to the basic needs of our people”.
He added: “Those who have imposed these sanctions would rather have us pander to their interests at the expense of the basic needs of the majority of our people. As long as these economic and financial sanctions remain in place, Zimbabwe’s capacity to fully and effectively implement Agenda 2030 is deeply curtailed.
“I repeat my call to Britain and the United States and their allies to remove the illegal and unjustified sanctions against my country and its people. We must all be bound by our commitments to Agenda 2030, under which we all agreed to eschew sanctions in favour of dialogue.”
We agree with the President that sanctions need to be removed in total if Zimbabwe is to achieve the objectives of the SDGs. Zim-Asset requires substantial financial resources to implement and Zimbabwe does not have access to cheap lines of credit due to sanctions. We also feel Western countries need to acknowledge the reforms which the Government has implemented to meet some of the conditions set out by global multilateral financial institutions for funding.
Treasury has been working the IMF and World Bank to implement measures aimed at reviving the economy and while some of the prescriptions have been very unpopular, Zimbabwe has bent over backwards to accommodate them.
There are ongoing efforts to curtail public sector spending and rationalise the civil service sand this is being done to placate these institutions which have set out conditions for resumption of budgetary support. Zimbabwe deserves a chance to implement its economic revival plan without the burden of sanctions.