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Zimbabweans protest Western countries’ decades – long sanctions

Zimbabweans protest against the sanctions imposed on their country by the United States and other Western nations

Zimbabweans took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against the sanctions imposed on their country by the United States and other Western nations more than two decades ago.

During a campaign in the country’s capital Harare marking Anti-Sanctions Day, which falls on Oct. 25, Zimbabwe’s Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said that sanctions have significantly hindered Zimbabwe’s economic development.

“The sanctions include financial restrictions and illegal economic measures that alienate Zimbabwe from global supply chains and the global financial system as well as bar capital inflows mainly from the West,” he said.

According to Chiwenga, these illegal sanctions have caused the Zimbabwean economy to contract drastically over the two decades since their imposition.

“Since 2001, we estimate that Zimbabwe has lost or missed over 150 billion U.S. dollars through frozen assets, trade embargoes, export and investment restrictions from potential bilateral donor support, development loans, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank balance of payment support, and commercial loans,” he said.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe since 2001, as a response to the government’s decision to address colonial injustices by redistributing land to indigenous Zimbabweans. These sanctions have severely impacted the country, resulting in prompting widespread calls for their removal, both within Zimbabwe and from international voices.

The Southern African Development Community, a regional bloc comprising 16 countries, designated Oct. 25 as Anti-Sanctions Day in 2019 to show solidarity with Zimbabwe in its opposition to the sanctions.

During the anti-sanctions march, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Frederick Shava told Xinhua that the sanctions have caused significant hardship for businesses. “These sanctions are a real albatross on our neck. They are affecting every aspect of our economy. They are affecting business in the sense that our business here cannot interact internationally because they are being denied transactions in banks when they do business.”

“Our industry and commerce would have been flying by now, but it’s being drawn back by these sanctions,” he added.

Ruvarashe Hapaguti, a young online content creator, pointed out how sanctions affect the daily lives of ordinary citizens. She said that financial restrictions imposed on Zimbabwe limit the participation of young people in the digital world, affecting artists who promote their work on social media platforms.

“As an artist that promotes their stuff on social media platforms, I get less money than I am meant to actually get because of the sanctions that have been imposed on us. Some of the transactions that we partake in daily at the banks and remittances are limited because of these sanctions,” Hapaguti said.

Martin Zharare, executive director of the anti-sanctions group Citizens Against Economic Sanctions, said that the embargo has been employed as part of a regime change agenda by the West. He urged that sanctions should not be used as a political tool to bring disaster or anarchy to Zimbabwe.

In her report published in September 2022, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, Alena Douhan, highlighted the significant impact of sanctions, including secondary sanctions and over-compliance by foreign banks and companies, on both the people and the government of Zimbabwe, saying these sanctions have exacerbated preexisting economic and humanitarian challenges in the country.

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