Sadc primed for anti-sanctions fight

24 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Sadc primed for anti-sanctions fight

The Sunday News

Harare Bureau
SOUTHERN African Development Community leaders will tomorrow deliver another emphatic rebuttal of the illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in a strong show of solidarity with the country on the occasion of the regional Anti-Sanctions 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 for the day, including a musical gala at the Harare International Conference Centre featuring some of the country’s top artistes.

In 2019, the regional bloc declared October 25 as the day for Sadc to campaign as a region for the unconditional removal of 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.” Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, told our Harare Bureau that preparations for the commemorations were at an advanced stage.

“We have speeches; pre-recorded speeches by regional leaders which will be broadcast to the nation as well as an address by His Excellency, the President. Captains of industry, Zanu-PF as well as other organisations also have pre-recorded speeches calling for the removal of sanctions.”

The ruling Zanu-PF has lined up several programmes countrywide to marshal widespread support for the commemorations.

The revolutionary party’s acting secretary for information and publicity, Dr Mike Bimha, said: “As a party we are having a joint programme with Government. We are also going to have a series of activities even after the commemorations. The activities will be held in all provinces because we believe that the call for the removal of sanctions should be ongoing until they are removed.”

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. She will conclude her tour of duty on Thursday.

In an interview, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Government had shared with the rapporteur its position paper outlining the negative effects of sanctions on the country. Our Harare Bureau has gathered that the paper outlines in detail how the sanctions have been targeted at strategic sectors of the economy helping to spawn a two-decade-long economic decline.

“Our position paper as Government will only be shared when the rapporteur has completed her mission. However, we discussed the impact on sectors of the economy such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism and the financial sector. During our discussions with her, we highlighted that 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 mothballed as a result of financing challenges induced by the sanctions. Another case is the non-delivery of 1 000 Land Rover Defender vehicles for the Zimbabwe Republic Police purchased from the United Kingdom in 1998. Government was supposed to take delivery of 1 500 vehicles, however, sanctions were imposed after only 500 vehicles had been delivered, leaving a balance of 1 000 which have not been delivered to date.”

He said this development, in turn, dealt a major blow to the ZRP’s operational effectiveness. Minister Ziyambi said as a result, the crime rate in the country has increased by 85 percent since the year 2000.

“Water and sanitation infrastructure deteriorated leading to outbreaks of cholera and typhoid epidemics notably in 2008 and 2018 leading to over 3 000 deaths and thousands of lives affected. Government also 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.”

He said as a result of the biting economic challenges, emigration from the country rose rapidly, leading to 3,6 million Zimbabweans leaving the country. The sanctions, Minister Ziyambi said, had also bred massive youth underemployment.

“You will notice that prior to the imposition of sanctions, the informal sector employed 490 000 people annually, but this number has increased to 1,65 million. This shows that there are high levels of underemployment and lack of decent work given that many degreed people are not in formal employment.”

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

“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.

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.”

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