By Harriet Chikandiwa
Economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West have hit ordinary citizens and are having a negative impact on efforts by the country to promote peace, a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NRPC) commissioner has said.
“The issue of sanctions and how they have impacted the social and economic welfare of the generality of Zimbabweans is of great relevance to us,” commissioner Geoffrey Chada said in a statement.
The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Harare over alleged human rights abuses, electoral theft and failure to uphold the rule of law in 2001, allegations which the authorities have denied.
The EU lifted sanctions in 2014, but maintained an embargo on the late former President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace. However, the US has maintained sanctions on 141 individuals and firms linked to the Zanu PF government, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, senior party and military leadership.
In March this year, US President Donald Trump extended the embargo by another year, citing Mnangagwa’s failure to implement political reforms.
Chada described sanctions as a declaration of economic war, warfare by economic means and gun boat diplomacy.
“Economic sanctions applied at international level like the sanctions against Zimbabwe involve restrictions on trade, financial transactions, and communications between the target state and the sanctions states. They fall in the intermediate class of collective measures, being more severe than diplomatic or political measures such as votes of protest, votes of censure, expulsion, or suspension from international bodies and non-recognition.”
For the NPRC, he said, peace involves the existence of freedom and human rights and without peace there can be no development.
“Peace guarantees full existence of freedom and human rights; peace guarantees free political participation in the public affairs of the nation, peace guarantees national social and economic development, without peace there can be no development,” he