Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
ILLEGAL sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West continue to bite industry, with the Industrial Development Corporation reportedly losing over US$20 million to the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, while a Zimbabwean resident in Botswana had his US$1 000 frozen, Parliament heard last week.
The Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, one of the IDC subsidiaries, still has US$5 million frozen to date as the US applies its Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, its sanctions law.
The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe also lost over US$30million in revenue to Ofac. The West’s illegal sanctions regime is estimated to have cost Zimbabwe US$42 billion in revenue over the past 13 years shrinking the economy by over 40 percent with deleterious effects on livelihoods and jobs.
Mberengwa East legislator Cde Makhosini Hlongwane (Zanu-PF), told the National Assembly that none of the 15 IDC subsidiaries had been able to do any telegraphic transactions with any international finance institution either to pay for raw materials or any other transaction.
Cde Hlongwane, who chairs the Zimbabwean delegation to the African, Caribbean and Pacific – European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly, said this last week while moving a motion that the National Assembly write to the EU and the US to lift its embargo.
“Just to illustrate this in graphic sense, IDC has lost close to US$20 million. Most of it was frozen by OFAC so that that money cannot find its way to Zimbabwe in order for IDC to transact,” he said.
“Everyone knows ZFC’s role is to make sure that there is production of fertiliser, a vital commodity in driving the agricultural sector. As I speak, US$5 million belonging to ZFC is frozen in New York, it cannot access that money because of the sanctions that are imposed on ZFC on IDC and all its aggregate companies,” he said.
He said Olivine, another subsidiary of IDC lost the US$2million loan it had secured from the PTA Bank to capitalise. This, Cde Hlongwane said, had seen the company fail to produce even the popular Perfection soap.
“Perfection soap, one of the cheapest soaps available on the market to enable a rural woman to survive cannot be produced and then we tell ourselves that there are no sanctions in this country,” he said.
MDC-T legislators sought to deny the existence of sanctions, preferring to call them “restrictive measures’’. This is despite the fact that the Global Political Agreement signed by Zanu-PF and MDC formations acknowledged the existence of the embargo and implored all parties to call for their removal.
Cde Hlongwane said the sanctions regime was cruel as evidenced by the freezing of cash belonging to a Zimbabwean based in Botswana who intended to remit about US$1 000.
“A few months ago, a Zimbabwean national who is based in Botswana tried to remit US$975 for the purchase of a stand in Sunway City here in Harare. That US$975 was frozen by OFAC. This is not the Government of Zimbabwe. This is an individual, who is of Zimbabwean extraction who is in Botswana,” he said.
Production of livestock treatment chemicals, he said, had also been affected after Chemplex Corporation was also put on the sanctions list.
He said it was unfortunate that some South African banks were sympathising with the West and appeared reluctant to work with Zimbabwe.
“South African banks, because of the stigma of sanctions, Zimbabwe being under economic embargo, South African banks are empathising with some of those international banks. In other words, even if you want to transact in rand, it is difficult for you to do that,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been under sanctions for over a decade now and the challenge at hand is to come up with home grown solutions to deal with them.