Harare (New Ziana) – United Nations special rapporteur, Alena Douhan on Wednesday told the West to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe two decades ago to force the country to reverse its land reforms.
The United States and the European Union slapped Zimbabwe with punitive sanctions after it compulsorily acquired excess farmland from white farmers to resettle previously marginalised black people.
In a statement released at the end of her two week visit to assess the impact of sanctions on the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans, Douhan said the embargoes had worsened the lives of poor Zimbabweans particularly women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities.
“The United States and other states should lift their sanctions on targeted individuals and entities and end over-compliance. The time is ripe for sanctioning states and key national key stakeholders to engage in a meaningful structured dialogue on political reform, human rights and the rule of law, and abandon rhetoric on sanctions as an advocacy tool,” she said.
During her stay in Zimbabwe, Douhan visited Harare and Bulawayo, and held meetings with government officials, civil society, trade unions, faith based organisations, business associations. diplomatic corps and other stakeholders.
“Following a two-week visit to Zimbabwe, the expert said that the unilateral sanctions and over – compliance with sanctions in their complexity had exacerbated pre-existing social and economic challenges with devastating consequences for the people of Zimbabwe, especially those living in poverty, women, children, elderly, people with disabilities as well as marginalised and other vulnerable groups, ” read part of the statement.
She said sanctions had a ‘ripple effect’ on the Zimbabwean economy.
“Over the last 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over-compliance with sanctions have had an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment, ” said Douhan.
She added :” This situation also limits Zimbabwe’s ability to guarantee the functioning of public infrastructure, and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals”.
Douhan said due to sanctions, the private sector was failing to secure credit from foreign banks which she described as ‘overly compliant fearing heavy penalties for breaching sanctions.
“This has resulted in inefficient high cost bank transactions, serious challenges in accessing credit lines and major disruptions in supply chains, which impinge the ability to secure infrastructure financing and business continuity.
“Sanctions are also fuelling corruption and money laundering, and over reliance in the informal sector,” Douhan said.
The UN special rapporteur is expected to present her findings on the effects of sanctions on Zimbabweans to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2022.
Sanctions are estimated to have cost the Zimbabwean economy US $100 billion over the past two decades.