Sanctions impact worse during Covid-19 crisis – Minister

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo says the impact of western imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe was worse during the current COVID-19 crisis.

In a statement Tuesday, Moyo said sanctions have limited government’s capacity to import test kits, medicines, face shields and other protective kits to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

He said the Zimbabwean government welcomed a recent UN observation that sanctions had a debilitating impact on the health sector and that, in the context of a global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all citizens.

“It is common knowledge that the performance of the Zimbabwean economy has been constrained due to the phenomenon of sanctions which have worked to worsen the socio-economic environment, with the poor and the vulnerable groups being the hardest hit,” Moyo said.

“Zimbabwe’s access to international credit markets was blocked effectively after the enactment of ZIDERA.

“The country’s economy was greatly affected as the Government cannot borrow even in times of dire need.

“As a country operating virtually from hand to mouth, there has been a significant build up in external arrears.”

Added the minister, “This unfavorable development in the external sector has worsened the country’s creditworthiness as the country’s risk profile was heightened.

“Zimbabwe’s ongoing watershed reforms meant to turn around the fortunes of the country, after decades of decline, are taking place in this most unsupportive environment.

“This has led to the drying up of traditional sources of external finance from the donor community.”

He went on to say that regrettably, Zimbabwe’s private sector was not spared.

“Zimbabwean companies are finding it extremely difficult to access offshore lines of credit because of the perceived country risk,” he said.

“If ever they manage to secure offshore financing, it is usually at punitive interest rates.”

“The impact of these sanctions on the country is even worse during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The country‘s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan are severely hampered by the illegal sanctions imposed on the country.

“The capacity to import test kits, medicines, face shields and other protective kits has been limited.

“Even the private sector, which has a strong tradition of ploughing back into the community, has not been able to respond massively to this pandemic.”

Since the outbreak of coronavirus, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for the rolling back of international sanctions against countries around the world as an essential part of the global effort to contain Covid-19.

The two leaders encouraged the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries like Zimbabwe to ensure that they access food, essential health supplies and COVID-19 medical support.