Felex Share Senior Reporter
Government has described as “anti-life” and an attack on the basic livelihoods of Zimbabweans the decision by the United States to add two fertiliser companies on its sanctions list last week.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe yesterday said the renewed heinous act to embargo Chemplex Holdings and Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company was meant to derail Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
The US, in a move aimed at frustrating Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround anchored on agriculture, included on its sanctions the two Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe-owned companies.
IDCZ has for long been under sanctions and has had some of its funds withheld by the State Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Dr Mushohwe said the move by the US constituted an escalation of hostility towards Zimbabwe as the country’s economy was agro-based.
“The two companies which the latest US sanctions target are at the centre of supplying inputs to the country’s agricultural sector which, apart from being the mainstay of our economy, is the principal source of food and livelihoods for the majority of Zimbabweans, principally those in rural areas already battling a crippling drought from El Nino,” he said.
“Through this heinous act, the US has decided to worsen things for our people, indeed has decided to target for attack the basic livelihoods of all Zimbabweans. It is hard to grasp how a country that prides itself as a responsible player and leader in global affairs can target a key humanitarian sector for attack.”
The Obama administration last week extended its sanctions by another year saying Zimbabwe remained “a threat to the foreign policy of the United States”.
Relations between Harare and Washington turned sour at the turn of the millennium after the US government imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in retaliation to a bilateral tiff between Zimbabwe and Britain over the land issue.
The US came up with a law, the Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, to back the illegal sanctions that were not endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
Dr Mushohwe said it seemed as if the UN discourse on Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals meant nothing to the US as its foreign policy objectives were allowed to create conditions of food insecurity in other countries.
“Far from aiming for any hallowed goals, these spiteful sanctions were declared and imposed in support of a remnant white colonial landed gentry whose dominance in our national affairs the US wished to see perpetuated after our independence and forever,” Dr Mushohwe said.
“As far as the American government is concerned, a mere 4 000 colonial white farmers are more important and deserving of US support than the 13 million landless black Zimbabweans whose heritage was stolen through colonial occupation and who had gone without land since 1890.”
He went on: “The measures against the two fertiliser companies are calculated to ensure that the countless beneficiaries of our national land reforms are unable to take full advantage of the land that has come their way to build sustainable livelihoods. We reject such brazen racism and denounce this anti-life stance by the US Government.”
Dr Mushohwe said the move would not go unchallenged.
“Government is exploring strategies of challenging this sinister decision by the American government while, of course, defending the gains of our land reform programme which are now under renewed attack.”
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently fined Barclays Bank plc for helping the IDCZ, a State-owned financial development institution and individuals linked to the company, to process 159 funds transfers valued at around $3,4 million between July 2008 and September 2013.
Analysts condemned the move by the US and said this was meant to stifle the success of Zim-Asset, the country’s economic blueprint.
The two companies are critical in achieving targets set under the Food and Nutrition cluster of the blueprint.