Stressing the direness of the situation resulting from the sanctions, Zimbabwean business and political leaders have urged the United States and other Western countries to promptly ease the burden on the Zimbabwean people.
Real pain of entrepreneurs
Celia Rukato, founder of Chjaa Enterprises, a textile print and garment manufacturing company based in Harare, is one of the entrepreneurs who faces daunting challenges of exporting products to clients on a daily basis. Like many modern retailers, her brand featuring the Zimbabwean identity has utilized online platforms to reach out to a larger customer base in and outside Zimbabwe. However, payment options have been a problem for these Zimbabwe-registered businesses due to Western sanctions.
"There are certain companies that are not allowed to interact or work with Zimbabwean-based companies," she told Xinhua. Take PayPal for example, "we don't have access to PayPal because it's an America-based company. We have to make alternative plans that cause the customers to pay more for transaction costs or a middleman's commission in a third country," she said.
Sanctions-related barriers have also resulted in Zimbabwe-based startups missing out opportunities and funding because they were not allowed to apply or get access to certain grants. Led by the United States, Western countries have imposed sanctions on this African country over differences with Zimbabwe on its land reform program.
While the EU has eased its sanctions over the years, the United States and Britain continue with theirs. They argue that the sanctions are targeted at a few individuals. But the Zimbabwean government and analysts say their impact is being felt throughout the whole economy, with ordinary citizens bearing the brunt.
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Given the overly distressing effect on the viability of businesses and the Zimbabwean economy, there have been outcries against the sanctions in and outside Zimbabwe.
"You cannot do so much when you are under a yoke. This is probably the reason why some have even equated the sanctions with 'new forms of neo-colonialism.' We should be seeing countries being able to determine and chart their own destiny according to their own traditional cultural, political, socio-political, and socio-economic backgrounds," said Denford Mutashu, president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association.
"The sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe outside the parameters of the UN Security Council guidelines. So for that reason they must be removed by any state that respects the rule of law. Going forward, it is a human rights violation. I call upon the U.S.... in the interest of respect of the human rights in general, to remove the sanctions," said Abigale Mupambi, the National Coordinator of Civic Societies and Churches Joint Forum.
"Our view has always been clear that sanctions are a form of economic warfare, sanctions are economic terrorism which is being used by the United States of America to agitate the people of Zimbabwe to do an uprising for a regime change agenda," said Linda Masarira, leader of the political party Labor, Economists and African Democrats of Zimbabwe.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures Alena Douhan also highlighted the effects of the sanctions in a preliminary report released after her Oct. visit to this African country.
The U.S.-led sanctions against natural and legal persons of Zimbabwe, in conjunction with secondary sanctions, zero-risk policies and over-compliance are exacerbating the economic and humanitarian crisis, forcing the Zimbabwean government, banks, public institutions, private companies and individuals to look for alternative ways to participate in international trade by involving third parties, using alternative informal non-transparent mechanisms of trade and payments, thus adding to corruption rather than suppressing it, she said.
Douhan urged all international stakeholders to stop using the rhetoric of sanctions as an advocacy tool and to engage in structural dialogue to settle any disputes in accordance with the rule of law.