US-led sanctions against Zimbabwe impacting on healthcare, food

2021-10-28 16:11:11
US-led sanctions against Zimbabwe impacting on healthcare, food

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Alena Douhan said this in a statement released Wednesday at the conclusion of her 10-day visit to Zimbabwe to assess the impact of the sanctions.

The UN envoy is scheduled to address a press conference in Harare Thursday and then submit a public report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2022.

She visited Zimbabwe at the invitation of the Zimbabwean government and during the visit, she held meetings with State officials, members of civil society, trade unions, faith-based organizations, political parties, private companies and business associations, diplomatic corps and other stakeholders.

"The U.S. and other States should lift their sanctions on targeted individuals and entities and end over-compliance," Douhan said.

"The time is ripe for sanctioning States and key national 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 added.

Douhan noted 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 the marginalized and vulnerable groups.

She said 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, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment.

"This situation also limits Zimbabwe's ability to guarantee the functioning of public institutions, delivery of services and maintenance of essential infrastructure and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals," Douhan said.

She observed that many companies, as well as foreign banks, applied zero-risk policies and were overly compliant fearing heavy penalties for breaching the sanctions.

"This had 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," she said.

Sanctions, Douhan said, were also fuelling corruption and money laundering and over-reliance in the informal sector.

Marking the SADC Anti-Sanctions Day on Monday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the sanctions, which were imposed by the European Union, the United States and lately the United Kingdom after it left the EU, had contributed to a decline in the country's socio-economic landscape.

"While we welcome the gradual lifting of sanctions by the European Union, we reiterate our call for the immediate removal of all restrictions in their entirety," Mnangagwa said.

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