Harare, Zimbabwe | Xinhua | Zimbabweans on Monday marked the Anti-Sanctions Day with demonstrations around the country to urge the United States of America to remove sanctions it imposed on the southern African country about two decades ago.
The Anti-sanctions Day was set aside by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for member states to stand in solidarity with Zimbabwe and collectively call for the unconditional lifting of the embargo.
In the capital Harare, a local anti-sanctions lobby group Broad Alliance Against Sanctions (BAAS) held a peaceful demonstration at the United States Embassy calling for the removal of sanctions.
Calvern Chitsunge, co-founder and chairperson of BAAS, said sanctions have been detrimental to the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans, hence the need to join hands with SADC member states to call for their removal.
Zimbabwe has been reeling under unilateral sanctions from Western countries led by the United States.
The sanctions were imposed in 2000 after Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform program during which the country re-possessed land from minority white farmers for redistribution to landless indigenous Zimbabweans.
While the United States argues that sanctions are targeted on a few individuals and entities, the Zimbabwean government says the impact of sanctions is being felt throughout the whole economy.
Analysts say as a result of the sanctions, especially the United States’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), Zimbabwe has not fully enjoyed support from international financial institutions.
And in order to push for the removal of the sanctions, BAAS in 2019 set up a permanent camp at the main entrance of the United States Embassy in Harare.
“We have been camped here for 939 days, and we made lots of engagements with the American government through the ambassador of America, and to that effect, we have seen the removal of sanctions on IDBZ (Infrastructure Investment Bank of Zimbabwe), we have seen the removal of sanctions on Agribank,” he said.
Linda Masarira, leader of the Labor Economists and Afrikan Democrats (LEAD) political party, said sanctions have been used as a tool of economic warfare on Zimbabwe by the United States.
“The decline in our economy started after the land reform program, and these sanctions, especially ZIDERA was actually put into effect soon after the land reform program. It was an action that the United States of America decided to do on Zimbabwe to ensure that they make our economy scream, they make things hard for Zimbabweans and imply that black Zimbabweans, native Zimbabweans cannot do their own farming, or run their own economy,” she said.
Masarira said sanctions have been historically employed by the United States as a regime change tool.
“The main agenda was to make sure that people get fed up. They do an uprising to try and topple the sitting government and the U.S. intervenes, where they intervene, they take over, we saw that happening in Libya, and we will not allow the U.S. to continue lying to the people of Zimbabwe that the sanctions are targeted,” she said.
Sekai Holland, a Senator, said the embargo significantly impacted Zimbabweans in the financial sector.
“American banks refuse to allow transfers to Zimbabwean banks regardless of where that money is going, it should actually only impact on 83 people, but everybody whose money goes through American banks is impacted upon, and we have a big population of Zimbabweans in the U.S.,” she said.
In addition, Holland said sanctions have also greatly hindered the provision of internet services to Zimbabwe by foreign firms.