Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West have brought untold suffering to ordinary people and their impact has also affected neighbouring countries, President Mnangagwa has said. He said this while addressing people who thronged the National Sports Stadium in Harare to mark the SADC-initiated day against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
The day was adopted by SADC Heads of State and Government at their summit in Tanzania in August.
“On 18 August 2019, the SADC Heads of State and Government, meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, took a bold and historic decision to declare October 25, as the day on which the entire SADC region would collectively voice its disapproval and condemnation of the illegal sanctions imposed on our country, Zimbabwe,” he said.
“The unjustified and oppressive illegal sanctions continue to cause untold suffering to the ordinary people of our great country.
“Their direct and indirect debilitating impacts have equally been felt by our neighbours. Today, we arise and collectively say enough is enough. The illegal sanctions are an albatross to the development, well-being and prosperity of the people of Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa thanked SADC for standing by Zimbabwe and its condemnation of the sanctions at the 74th Ordinary Session of the UN General Assembly.
He also commended Zimbabweans for speaking out against the embargo, as evidenced by the huge turnout at yesterday’s protest march.
“The dispossession of our land was one of the primary grievances which led us to wage the protracted liberation struggle for our country.
“Ours was a fight to reunite the land with its people and the people with their land, which promise we fulfilled during the land reform exercise. However, this had dire consequences and led to the imposition of the illegal and unjustifiable sanctions by the European Union and the USA,” he said. The President said the USA’s Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) had cut off the country from international financial institutions with those that go against that law risking their financial transactions being blocked or penalised.
“Furthermore, ZIDERA has blocked Zimbabwe’s access to international credit markets, leading to the drying up of traditional sources of external finance.
“The country has not received any budget support from the IMF and the World Bank since the imposition of sanctions,” said President Mnangagwa.
He added that the sanctions had forced Government to operate from hand to mouth while some commercial banks had been fined for breaking the sanctions law.
“For nearly 20 years, we have lived under the unbearable weight of these illegal sanctions. Their impact on our daily lives is immeasurable and the consequences are dire. We know very well that the sanctions are neither ‘smart’ nor ‘targeted’. For example, two agricultural and infrastructural development banks were placed under sanctions, which saw them losing millions, in lines of credit and reputational damage.
“State-owned companies and their subsidiary companies in the fertiliser industry also had their accounts frozen. Millions belonging to another chemical manufacturing company were also intercepted. Another State-owned company responsible for marketing the country’s minerals lost revenue in similar circumstances. The list is indeed endless,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said hospitals had also been affected while many people had lost their jobs due to company closures.
“The negative perception that has come with sanctions has impacted on foreign direct investment inflows. This, in turn, negatively affects our economic growth, balance of payment position and employment levels.
“Every part of our country and sector of the economy, has been affected by these sanctions. Like a cancer, the sanctions know neither colour, nor creed, age or gender and affect the rich and vulnerable, as well as the young and old alike,” said President Mnangagwa.
He added that the sanctions were imposed as a direct response to the country’s land reform programme.
The President said the programme was irreversible as many people had sacrificed their lives to reclaim the land during the liberation war.
“The act of imposing these ruinous sanctions was against the very grain and spirit and letter of the UN Charter and a gross violation of the core tenets of international law. They are illegal and unjustified, with no place in a modern and progressive world which espouses the equality of all nations.
“As the people of Zimbabwe we cannot continue to have the right of our fundamental human rights, dignity and worth trampled upon, all because of the continued presence of this albatross of sanctions. This injustice of sanctions on our nation, our people and on our economy cannot continue,” said President Mnangagwa.
He added that the sanctions had affected the agriculture sector with access to markets for the country’s produce being curtailed.
Further, the President said the mining sector has remained constrained due to lack of funding for recapitalisation in the face of the continued sanctions regime.
“Of particular concern are the two minerals marketing companies which were designated by the US and EU. Assets belonging to these companies within the USA and EU were frozen. The sanctions have continued to make it difficult for our diamond companies to market and trade at competitive prices,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the sanctions had also affected SADC’s ability to achieve its collective targets in the social, economic and financial spheres.
He added that Zimbabwe would remain strong and emboldened by the spirits of sons and daughters of the soil who sacrificed their lives for the independence of the country.
“Today we do not mourn, but we renew our resolve to succeed as a nation, despite the odds against us. Together, in love, peace, unity and harmony. Vision 2030 shall become a reality. My Government will continue to take measures to mitigate against the impact of these illegal sanctions.
“To date we have maximised revenue collection and ensure efficient utilisation of scarce resources to boost critical areas,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Government had elected to take a decision to embark on political and economic reforms.
“We are opening up both our political and economic space. Under my leadership, constitutionalism, democracy, rule of law, transparency, accountability and the inalienable human rights of all citizens, shall continue to be the hallmark of our great country.
“The engagement and re-engagement policy, as well as the peaceful coexistence with all nations of the world, are now the key pillars of our foreign policy. The culture of dialogue, peaceful resolution of disputes and the acceptance of divergent views will continue to be inculcated among our people,” said President Mnangagwa.