It is without doubt that sanctions are a crime against humanity, an unfair treatment of race against race, nation against nation, the strong against the presumably weak, all with the intention to create a tameable and easy to control people.
The turn of the new millennium coincided with Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme of 2000 that led Britain and her allies in the EU, with the United States of America, imposing illegal and unjustified sanctions under the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) of 2001.
The US then went on to write a wreath of legislative sanctions based on the ZIDERA framework, passing the sanctions on Zimbabwe as Executive Sanctions (Executive Order 13288) of March 2003 with an annual renewable tenure.
The European Union (EU) followed suit, introducing their own share of sanctions in February of 2002.
“Our sanctions target only 83 individuals and 37 entities. We review our sanctions list regularly to acknowledge developments in Zimbabwe,” was the catch phrase as the US tried to justify the existence of the rabid legislative piece that gave birth to the punitive embargoes levelled against the Republic of Zimbabwe.
In essence, the “Targeted Sanctions” are beyond being targeted at individuals and state entities.
They have had a devastating effect on the entire populace, with the common man and the low income bracket being the hardest hit.
It is without doubt that the sanctions on Zimbabwe were instituted at the instigation of then opposition leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and his band of acolytes, with Mr Tendai Biti being alleged to be the co-author of the heinous ZIDERA Act with all it’s implied ramifications and trifurcations.
The intention was loud and clear: “To make the economy scream,” and set the people against the then government of the late President Robert Mugabe.
This narrative has been perpetuated year in year out, with the latest review session in the US keeping the illegality to see another life, with a spanking effect on the nation of Zimbabwe under the Second Republic, it’s peace loving people and the economy that has continued to be subdued at the hands of the ruthless package of sanctions.
Year after year, the month of March has become a symbolic setting to the guillotine of the state of Zimbabwe as the houses in the US sit to discuss Zimbabwe all in the name of ZIDERA, their undoubted intention being to cause a change of guard, ushering in an opposition led government.
With this in mind, the wicked men and women sit to make amends and review without cause and reason, all in the spirit of effecting a regime change that will replace a party that liberated the people from their erstwhile colonial masters with a party born out of a foreign parentage, receiving and parroting their instructions from Britain and her allies.
While the EU itself burning under Brexit, lifted much of its sanctions in 2014, political sanctions against the former First Family, senior Government officials, the country’s service chiefs and Zimbabwe Defence Industries are still in place.
The sanctions also include travel bans and asset freeze for Zimbabwean officials and companies.
The EU still insists that it will maintain the sanctions under constant review “in light of political and security developments in Zimbabwe.”
Their undying message is straight and to the point: as long as the ruling Zanu PF Government stays in charge, sanctions will remain in force.
This alone shows the sanctions are and were never about anything to do with the so called rule of law, neither had they anything to do with the alleged human rights abuses.
They had everything to do with the Land Reform Programme under the fast track resettlement programme of the early 2000s.
Beyond the false claims that sanctions are only targeted at a few individuals, the reality on the ground is that the tight grip of the declared and undeclared sanctions is having a boomerang effect and are being felt right through the entire economy.
These cruel measures have effectively hampered the Government’s efforts at implementing its development trajectory without hindrance.
Effect on economy
The sanctions have without doubt, had a devastating effect on the whole economy of Zimbabwe.
Take for example, you impose sanctions to target a company such as Zimphos which produces fertilisers, what will be the effect of such a move?
Obviously, the country will have an acute shortage of fertilisers and related agro-chemicals. The livelihoods of our people, depending on agriculture will be acutely affected.
It is known and without doubt that because of the illegal sanctions, our agriculture sector has been affected. With these effects on agriculture, industries are also affected, with an equal retrogression even on our currency and general economic growth.
It is now due time and season, that the UN knows that while they prop up for the observance of other rights, they are turning a blind eye to the need to ensure that Zimbabwean citizens’ rights are respected.
With an ailing economy at the hands of these heinous sanctions come a plethora of effects on the social and economic aspects of life.
Schools can’t run properly, health facilities can’t perform to expected standards, provision of quality services in cities and rural communities become a tall order. Conclusively, the rights of the people can’t be fully upheld.
Companies operate below capacity, products become expensive and the already burdened citizen is on the receiving end of the “screaming economy.”
It is without doubt that Zimbabwe’s access to international credit was blocked after the coming in of ZIDERA.
The country has been forced to operate from hand to mouth, leading to a rise in external debt arrears. This development has worsened the country’s credit worthiness as the country’s international financial risk profile is held in bad light.
Due to Zimbabwe’s failure to honour its financial obligations to the IMF and World Bank, the Bretton Woods Institutions withheld balance of payment and technical assistance to Zimbabwe, further stalling any prospects of growth and progress. With Zimbabwe’s international arrears rising, standing at more than 70 percent, the growth of the economy has largely been subdued.
From October 2000, the World Bank made a pronouncement that had the effect of having all its International Bank of Reconstruction and Development loans and International Development Association credits to Zimbabwe in non-accrual status, resulting in the country being unable to access any form of lending or support.
With this situation obtaining, it is without doubt that the effect of the arrears situation born of the said sanctions has resulted in Zimbabwean companies finding it extremely difficult to access offshore lending, thus stalling their operations and killing retooling drives, with an adverse effect of making prices rise, as manufacturing within Zimbabwe has become largely expensive.
Where the private sector manages to secure offshore financing, it is usually at very exorbitant interest rates.
The adverse effect being the passing on of cost recovery to the common man due to high costs of goods and services.
Decline in living standards
The continued recession of long-term capital has had an effect on the country in varied ways: unemployment levels went up, basic commodities became scarce and when available, very expensive.
This led to a sharp decline in standards of living. The economy suffered from de-industrialisation with company closures right across the length and breadth of the nation. With company closures, came a huge emigration of skilled labour, with a number of Zimbabweans being estimated to be living in the diaspora, all in search of greener pastures.
To show that these sanctions were never about the targeted status they have continuously received, in 2016 alone, 19 de-risking cases were recorded in 10 of Zimbabwe’s local banks.
The US’ Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) fined a Zimbabwean commercial bank US$2,48 million for “flouting sanctions provisions spelt out under ZIDERA” the following year, in 2017, another commercial bank was slapped with a staggering USD3.8 billion fine by OFAC for facilitating transactions on behalf of a bank which was then a specified institution under ZIDERA. The penalty was later reduced to US$385 million.
This has had an effect of making handling of money by banking and financial institutions in Zimbabwe expensive.
These and many other such cases have been reported in the financial services market every time institutions tried to transact internationally, with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SEDCO) having its US$3 million blocked by OFAC.
Zimbabwean individuals have not been spared as opening of foreign accounts for those in import – export and those studying abroad have become hell on earth.
Online payment gateways such as Skrill, Payoneer, Paynow have continuously sanctioned accounts from Zimbabwean citizens with an acute effect of not being able to receive online payments and make withdrawals.
Zimphos still has its US$5 million frozen to date. A total of US$2 million belonging to another chemical company was also intercepted and is held in foreign banks. This has undoubtedly led to shortages of fertiliser and other related agro-chemicals.
This has been the same song everywhere as several key institutions with direct influence in the agricultural sector were placed under sanctions.
The sanctions affected the livelihood of households owing to lower agricultural yields and this has derailed Zimbabwe’s desire to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) against poverty and hunger.
Violation of basic human rights
In essence, these unjustified and illegal sanctions have violated basic human rights by directly perpetuating hunger and poverty in Zimbabwe and working against UN SDGs.
As succinctly put by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, “sustainable development goals offer a vision of a fair, prosperous, peaceful and sustainable world in which no one is left behind.”
Regrettably, the cruel and illegal sanctions regime slapped on Zimbabwe by the US and its allies run counter to this noble vision, impacting negatively on the country’s agriculture sector and indeed on the lives of all Zimbabweans.
When the country’s minerals marketing arm is put under sanctions, the effect is an assured fall of the sector and indeed the nation.
Failure to receive proceeds from mineral sales associated with the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has led to a dying mining sector that cannot retool or import much more recent technologies that improve production and performance.
Be that as it may, the marketing companies could not deal with US and EU persons and entities directly, because anyone who violated these measures was liable to prosecution.
Potential buyers of Zimbabwean minerals risked losing the minerals or proceeds born of such transactions.
Sanctions have had an acute effect on the demise of the health sector in Zimbabwe.
The Government has been forced over years to fund wages and salaries together with daily costs albeit, with little funding supporting real health promotion programmes.
The economic climate resulted in the failure by Government to procure new hospital equipment. Government could not raise adequate foreign currency, the costs of procuring equipment and drugs also became expensive as it had to be done through middlemen, mainly through South Africa, who put their mark-up and made a song from the strained relations born of a cruel sanctions regime.
The sanctions caused a nosedive of the country’s revenues and an increased devaluation of the national currency, with a resultant effect of high inflation and unemployment.
This has had a boomerang effect leading to a deterioration of people’s welfare and subdued standards of living.
The effects of sanctions have directly contributed to the increase in poverty levels in others, creating a vicious cycle of poverty.
The UN Human Rights Council makes mention of high unemployment rates, stagnated infrastructure development, poverty levels, low life expectancy and challenges faced by the vulnerable as examples of the adverse effects of sanctions in Zimbabwe.
This proves that the illegal sanctions that were imposed on Zimbabwe have over the years violated all the basic human rights of the common man on the street, all in a shrewd attempt to effect regime change in the country, ushering in a puppet Government led by the opposition MDCs, who have continuously called for the imposition and sustenance of these devilish sanctions. In all honesty of opinion and mere subtleties, Zimbabwe has lost over US$42 billion in revenue over the past 18 or so years all because of these cruel sanctions.
It is also common knowledge now that Zimbabwe also lost support estimated at US$4,5 billion annually since 2001, with US$12 billion being lost in support supposedly from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.
Independent commercial loans of US$18 billion were lost in the same period mentioned with a screaming effect of a subdued GDP of US$21 billion.
Rural communities have not been spared in the whole paradox of things, are sanctions targeted or not, do they affect all and sundry or the 83-50 list of individuals and companies only.
How do we then say sanctions slapped against a state entity do not affect member of the public in that state.
Post 1980, the Government of Zimbabwe introduced Growth Points in rural areas as a way of industrialization of formerly marginalised areas.
But, with the sanctions regime, this growth thrust has been impacted greatly with no meaningful investment driving towards these rural communities.
Social amenities have been subdued, impacted or killed completely in the end.
Provision of clean, portable water became elusive, goods and services became hugely expensive and beyond the reach of many.
By and large, it is apparently clear that the US and EU sanctions on Zimbabwe are not only illegal, but heinous and unjustified.
The way these sanctions violate Article 41 of the United Nations Charter, which states that “sanctions can only be decided on by the UN Security Council. Any unilateral measures taken by an individual state without the authorisation of UNSC resolution are illegal in nature because they infringe upon States’ right to economic and social development.”
Be that as it may, the UN General Assembly has promulgated and passed a resolution which “calls upon all States not to recognise unilateral extra-territorial coercive economic measures or legislative acts imposed by any state on another.”
What then waits to be seen is how the UNGA will treat the Zimbabwean case in view of the constant and persistent onslaught by its coloniser, Britain and her allies in the EU and the ZIDERA masters in the US.
The ushering in of the new dispensation brought in a new impetus, driven by the open door policy running under the Zimbabwe is Open for Business.
Under this new look establishment, it has become apparently clear that Zimbabwe is an enemy of none and a friend of all, thus no other nation needs to take a hostile, barbaric stance against her.
The call reverberating all across the country and the region throughout SADC and the AU is loud and clear: Sanctions are evil, they must be removed forthwith.
Takasununguka Ziki is an author, motivational speaker, founding trustee of Grow Zimbabwe Initiative and Online Editor for Zim Global Media