By Mary Taruvinga
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Friday took the occasion of the anti-sanctions march to heap all the country’s economic troubles on the Western embargo.
He was giving his keynote address in front of a few thousand majority Zanu PF supporters who braved a baking sun to come and express their collective resentment towards the sanctions.
The event began with a 3km march to the National Sports Stadium and was succeeded by a rally and a musical gala later in the day.
Zimbabwe has staggered from one economic crisis to another in the past 20 years with authorities blaming the crisis on an asset freeze and travel ban imposed on then President Robert Mugabe, his inner circle and associated firms accused of stifling democracy in Zimbabwe.
In his address, Mnangagwa felt the country could be different without the embargo.
“The unjustified and oppressive illegal sanctions continue to cause untold suffering to the ordinary people of our great country,” Mnangagwa said.
He said Zimbabwe was denied access to lines of credit from IMF and the World Bank in 2001 after the launch of Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA).
The law works with US Executive Orders which are renewed every year prohibiting Zimbabwe from doing business with USA firms.
Mnangagwa said this has impeded much needed financial transactions key to the economic life of a suffering nation.
“The mining sector has remained constrained due to lack of funding for recapitalisation in the face of continued sanctions regime.
“The sanctions have slowed the rate of implementation of capital projects in the energy sector resulting in curtailed and unreliable power infrastructure, insecure power cuts and uncompetitive industrial sector.
“Oil importers now have to operate on upfront payment as credit facilities have since stopped, resulting in erratic power supply.
“The bottom line has been the erratic supply of some basic products and the reduced quality of life of most of our people,” he said.
Mnangagwa said the restrictions have also affected Zimbabwe’s mainstay agriculture from operating at its peak.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy providing employment and income to our population and also supplying raw materials for our manufacturing sector.
“Regrettably, sanctions have made it extremely difficult to access lines of credit and attract investment into this sector.
“The sanctions resulted in our inability to develop our irrigation potential which could have a significant impact of the national food security and agriculture growth.”
Mnangagwa said the market access for horticulture produce, beef, sugar and cotton among other agro-based products has also been affected by sanctions.
“Many of our people have over the years lost loved ones in hospitals due to imposition of sanctions on our health system.”
Zimbabwe has of late experienced excessive power cuts with citizens going for over 15 hours a day without electricity.
Those in urban areas go for months without running water and the majority have resorted to using unsafe well water and boreholes to get the necessity.
Doctors downed tools over poor working conditions over two months ago and people continue to die unattended in hospitals.
The havoc also spills to the education sector where teachers are also on go-slow due to poor remuneration, among other things.
“The list is endless,” said Mnangagwa before calling on USA to remove sanctions immediately.
He said it was very disturbing that the sanctions have branded Zimbabwe financial linkages with the rest of he world as of high risk.
“To date, some of our local commercial banks have been slapped with staggering billions of dollars in fines,” he said.
However, government critics continue to dismiss as propaganda, claims that sanctions were the main cause of Zimbabwe’s continued suffering.
They blame authorities’ propensity to spend on luxuries, unpunished high-level corruption that has haemorrhaged billions from national coffers and potential revenue from minerals, as well as a government failure to reform, perpetuating the country’s pariah State status.