Govt uses local resources to bust the illegal embargo

18 Oct, 2020 - 00:10 0 Views
Govt uses local resources to bust the illegal embargo

The Sunday News

Vincent Gono, Features Editor
THE economic sanctions imposed on the country under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) of 2001 affected major infrastructural development projects in the country stalling progress in the country’s economic sectors.

The economic embargo led to the abrupt abandonment of many mega Western funded projects at a time when the Government was financially incapacitated to complete them. Multi-million-dollar road infrastructure development programmes were underway and some of roads were left at different stages of reconstruction after they were destroyed by Cyclone Eline in 2000.

The cyclone left the country’s road infrastructure littered with potholes while bridges were swept away leaving most roads both major and minor completely impassable especially during the rainy season. In Matabeleland Provinces the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road, Bulawayo-Kezi and Bulawayo-Tsholotsho roads were some of the roads that tell the sad tale of the evil effects of sanctions as their reconstruction was affected by the embargo and up to now – almost two decades later, the roads are still in their unfinished state although the Government has of late been working on them.

These roads have become death traps and no longer belong to the modern road infrastructure era as they still represent relics of the gone-by colonial period where traffic from major cities to tributary and outlying district centres was minimal as cars belonged to the elitist whites.

They are still single lane and are checkered with patches of tar and potholes of different sizes and depth.

Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Richard Moyo told Sunday News in a telephone interview that the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road and the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road were affected by sanctions as the partners pulled out before the work was complete.

He said it was simply the height of ignorance to say sanctions were targeted arguing that those who say so were suffering from serious political amnesia.

“It needs no genius to understand that sanctions are real and are not affecting those in Zanu PF only as has been argued in some circles. Sanctions cut across the entire economic spectrum, isolating the country and making doing business with the international community not only difficult but impossible.

“The Nkayi Road was being constructed by a company from Italy but it pulled out. Then there was another one from Turkey that also pulled out after the US imposed sanctions in the country. A lot of other projects that were underway were affected and some of them are still in that state as the Government has no money to complete the work.

“Only 40 km of the Nkayi Road had been done before the contractors pulled out. A number of other roads were affected too. We are happy that the Government is working on them now using local resources and we are soon commissioning the first three km stretch of the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho Road,” said Cde Moyo.

Other projects that are ongoing in Matabeleland North province despite sanctions, according to Minister Moyo are, the Gwayi-Shangani Dam construction, the Batoka Gorge and the investment in coal, gas and coke that has seen about 7000 youths getting employed.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Eng Joel Biggie Matiza said the Bulawayo-Nkayi and Bulawayo-Tsholotsho roads were two major projects that have seen so many false kick-offs, much stalling, due to sanctions falling under the US$250 million availed by Treasury out of a total US$5 billion required to put the country’s road network in shape. He said work on the ground points to a serious intention to re-establish the trafficability of most of the country’s roads.

“Through the fiscus, an amount of US$252 million has already been availed to the department of roads for the road development programme, targeting to re-establish a proper road network in the country to enhance movement of people, goods and services. The Bulawayo-Tsholotsho and Bulawayo-Nkayi Roads are among the projects that benefited from the money released by Treasury and I am sure work is already underway,” said Minister Matiza. Some of the targeted roads in Matabeleland include provincial roads such as Gwanda-Maphisa, Maphisa-Mpoengs, Gwanda-Guyu-Manama-Tuli, Ingwingwisi Bridge, Dete-Binga and Binga-Karoi road.

Cde Moyo said that the U.S. sanctions were not targeted, but instead were comprehensive and economic in nature since they have adverse economic impacts both on the economy and on the welfare of the entire population as has been proved by ZIDERA.

The Act states among other issues that the U.S. intends to influence change of behaviour in the government of Zimbabwe by preventing the International Monetary Fund and the International Development Association (IDA), among other International Financial Institutions, from extending financial support to Zimbabwe. According to Section 4(c) of ZIDERA titled “Multilateral Financial Restrictions,” until the President of the United States makes the certification described in subsection 4(d), the Secretary of the Treasury Executive to each of the International Financial Institutions must oppose or vote against: “(i) an extension by the respective institutions of any loan, credit or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe. (ii) Any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any International Financial Institution”.

Provisions of ZIDERA therefore confirm that U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe do have economic elements that inevitably contribute to the country’s economic collapse. Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cde Edgar Moyo weighed in saying sanctions have had a huge impact on Zimbabwe’s educational sector.

He said sanctions have led to the mass exodus of teachers from public schools, caused by poor remuneration endangering the opportunity of kids from poor family backgrounds to acquire education, since they cannot afford the fees of private schools or travel abroad for education.
Sanctions have put to naught the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommendations that primary education should be compulsory and free and should be made available and accessible to every child.

“Sanctions have led to brain drain in the education sector where Maths and Science areas are the hardest hit. They talk about the DRC war because the US had interests and they slow down economic activity. Teaching material is now hard to come by and parents are struggling to pay fees,” he said.

Research has shown that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) incorporates the right to education, while the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), under Article 28, stipulates the right to education for every child.

The article went on to state that wealthy countries should help poorer countries to achieve this right. In view of the above, rich developed countries of the West should be in the forefront of implementing universal basic education, whilst they desist from actions that will directly or indirectly antagonize the right to education.

Furthermore, sanctions affected support programmes provided by foreign donors to Zimbabwe’s educational sector. For example, the Swedish government in 1996 established the Education Sector Support Programme, which was funded to the tune of 95 million SEK. The programme supplied textbooks and other educational materials to Zimbabwe schools. It also constructed school buildings and promoted gender equality in educational systems in Zimbabwe, bridging the gender disparity in schools but was withdrawn after the EU imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The suspension of this project by the Swedish government has a significant negative impact on the beneficiaries. Affected families are now left with the responsibility of providing school materials for their children. It is therefore evident that it is the civilian population that is hit hardest as their basic rights and well-being are subjected to multi-faceted danger.

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