Illegal sanctions affect the whole Sadc region

25 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Illegal sanctions affect the whole Sadc region

The Chronicle

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo

For two decades, Zimbabwe has been under sanctions imposed by the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and the EU in response to the land reform programme that the Government undertook through Amendment 17 of the Constitution which allowed expropriation of land without compensation.

The Zidera Amendment Act (2018) sanctions, which targeted 141 individuals and 56 companies, further places financial restrictions that block debt cancellation to Zimbabwe and bars financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Africa Development Bank to extend any loan to the country without the approval of the US President.

The restrictive measures placed by the EU include the suspension of budgetary support to Zimbabwe, suspension of financial programmes as well as an embargo on the sale, supply, transfer of arms, assistance or training related to military service as well as a travel ban and freezing of assets to individuals that have been placed on targeted sanctions.

The sanctions have crippled the country’s economy with the ripple effects cascading to the lives of the ordinary Zimbabwean and sectors of the economy including trade, health, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism and the financial sector.

Today, the Southern African Development Community leaders will deliver another unequivocal disproof of the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in a show of camaraderie with Zimbabwe on the occasion of the regional Anti-Sanctions Solidarity Day.

President Mnangagwa will lead the commemorations with an address to the nation that will be broadcast across multiple platforms, while pre-recorded speeches from his peers in the region will also be broadcast. Various commemorative events have also been lined up including a musical gala at the Harare International Conference Centre featuring some of the country’s best artistes.

In 2019, the regional bloc declared October 25 as the day for Sadc to campaign as a region for the absolute removal of the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. This year’s commemorations will run under the theme, “Friend to all. Enemy to none: Forging ahead and enhancing innovation and productivity in adversity of sanctions.”

The commemorations come at a time when the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Ms Alena Douhan, is in the country. Ms Douhan is on a 10-day fact-finding mission at Government’s invitation and will conclude her tour of duty on Thursday.

The sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe exist in the form of targeted sanctions as well as multilateral financial restrictions. Some government officials, state owned enterprises and institutions have been sanctioned.

The sanctions have been targeted at strategic sectors of the economy which has led to a two-decade-long economic decline.

The contraction of the economy is attributed to declining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) because investors tend to shun a country whose FDI is on a free fall. This has led to an infrastructural gap of over US$30 billion as at 2017.

There are over 500 infrastructure projects that were deferred as a result of financing challenges induced by the sanctions.

Water and sanitation infrastructure deteriorated leading to outbreaks of cholera and typhoid epidemics notably in 2008 and 2018 and over 3 000 deaths were recorded while thousands of lives were affected.

Government has since highlighted that the sanctions have resulted in negative perceptions about the country by the international community, making it difficult to access international agricultural financing leading to lack of development and deterioration of production infrastructure.

Emigration from the country rose rapidly over the years, leading to 3,6 million Zimbabweans leaving the country and breeding massive youth underemployment.

The horticulture subsector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is said to have fallen from 4,5 percent before 2000 to the current 0,8 percent, while the cotton industry was being prevented from accessing EU markets.

Research shows that the manufacturing sector’s performance deteriorated significantly from 24 percent in 1999 to 13 percent in 2016 with some companies such as Olivine closing shop in 2019. This has also seen an increase in emigration of active people especially with critical skills. Currently, only six out of 27 commercial banks are able to transact internationally.

The withdrawal of development partners has also curtailed development programmes with the country losing over US$150 million a year in funds used to complement Government efforts in infrastructure development, health, food and agricultural sectors.

On average, sanctions are said to reduce the gross domestic product of target countries by a staggering three percent, with women and other vulnerable groups bearing the brunt of the economic sanctions.

Women are overrepresented in sectors that sanctions disrupt the most such as textiles, which further increases their vulnerability. Economic desolation has pushed women into the informal labour market and contributed to higher rates of female prostitution and human trafficking.

Due to sanctions and funding shortfalls, there’s a continued lack of access to emergency reproductive kits to assist against life-threatening complications during pregnancy.

When the American government passed the Zidera Act 20 years ago, they claimed that the Act was not intended to punish the people of Zimbabwe, but to target individuals and organisations that, in the view of the US government, were responsible for human rights and other violations of basic governance principles.

But, sanctions have, over the past two decades, adversely impacted the ordinary Zimbabwean.

Articles 39 to 42 of the United Nations Charter clearly state that economic embargoes can be used in the conduct of international relations on the condition that they are authorised by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). But, sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe were passed outside this multilateral forum.

International norms which must be respected in the conduct of international engagement, foreign policy and diplomacy, that is non-intervention and state sovereignty are choked by these sanctions.

These embargoes further contradict with the basic international principles of the United Nations Charter because they deprive and violate innocent civilians’ right to personal development.

The implications of the sanctions have been costly. They have brought bad publicity and restrained the country from harnessing massive investments.

They have also led to low credit ratings leading to the decline in the economy. Zimbabwe’s access to international credit markets have also been blocked by the imposition of sanctions so is the country’s balance of payments position.

According to research, Zimbabwe lost an estimated US$42 billion and another estimated US$4,5 billion annually for more than two decades. Another staggering US$2 billion was lost in IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank loans.

This has advanced the economic hemorrhage of Zimbabwe as a result of aid cut, lack of long-term investment as well as fiscal support from international financial institutions.

These sanctions are not only a challenge to Zimbabwe but they also affect regional integration in Southern Africa at large and so they must go, sooner than yesterday. – @Yolisswa.

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