Zimbabwe: Polad Engages US On Sanctions

Political players under the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform have submitted a detailed report to the United State's House of Foreign Affairs Committee covering the devastating effects of the illegal sanctions imposed two decades ago.

In their deliberations with the US representatives, the Polad members, who include all the major political parties in the country, made it clear that sanctions have affected the generality of the populace and were never targeted.

Speaking at a press conference in Harare yesterday, Polad chairperson on International Relations and Re-engagement Committee Mr Divine Hove said the US sub-committee on Africa Global Human Rights and Global Health chaired by US Congress member Karen Bass requested them to submit their position in regards to the effects of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday this week, Polad members participated in the virtual meeting that heard the effects sanctions have had on the African continent .

The submissions were made to the Foreign Affairs Committee, Sub Committee on Africa Global Health and Global Human Rights open hearing whose agenda was: "the impact of sanctions on Africa".

In a letter to the chair of the committee Karen Bass, Polad described sanctions as a tool of coercion.

"They discriminate a country from trading freely on the international markets and to access funding".

Congressman Darrel Issa suggested that sanctions on African countries were uneven and opened the question to whether they should be reduced for Zimbabwe.

The statement at the hearing signalled a step towards change in the United States' approach towards sanctions in Africa.

The document submitted by Polad covers 22 specific areas where sanctions have negatively impacted Zimbabwe.

The document highlights, the number of people in poverty rose to 60, 7 percent after the introduction of sanctions.

Sanctions have severely limited access to finance for business and the Government. The agricultural sector has suffered greatly.

The economic impact saw unemployment rising which has disproportionally hit women and young people and caused a significant reduction in foreign direct investment.

The submissions concluded that Zimbabwe has lost over US$42 billion in revenue over the past 18 years because of the US and EU sanctions.

"Our argument is that, far from having a targeted impact, sanctions have damaged the entire economy and hurt the poorest and most vulnerable citizens,"

Mr Hove said Polad called on the US Congressional Committee to acknowledge Zimbabwe's desire to work towards re-engagement with the West.

"We stated that we must not forget it is a new day in Zimbabwe, while we are not yet where we want to be as a country, we are taking the appropriate steps in the right direction," he said.

Zanu PF representative Cde Patrick Chinamasa commended the United States for inviting Polad to make its submissions in regards to sanctions.

"For the first time ever, we have been invited to give submission, to the Foreign Relations Committee. It's significant. All along they were giving audience only to those of our compatriots MDC who were asking for the imposition, intensification and extension of sanctions against their own people. I want to acknowledge and recognise that for the first time, people who are opposed to sanctions are now being given audience and asked to make submissions. That is a very important first step."

Further, he said that these sanctions were basically to bring down the Government of the day and for over 20 years they have failed.

"They now accept that they will not remove the Government from power through the imposition of sanctions."

Any sanctions which are not authorised by the United Nations Security Council, he said are illegal and in violation of international law and international human rights instruments.

"That is what characterised the sanctions which were imposed against Zimbabwe. They were not under the authority of the UN Security Council, so they are illegal. Sanctions were imposed unilaterally by the USA and the by the European countries to reverse the land reform programme."

He said that Polad members clearly stated to them that the story that the sanctions are targeted are a complete lie.

"This is an important step that the sub-committee have invited Polad to make submissions. First it's a recognition of Polad.

"They recognise that there is some political developments in Zimbabwe where political parties opposing each other have come together to chart a way forward for their country," said Cde Chinamasa.

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