Beaven Dhliwayo Features Writer
The following timeline gives an overview of the decisions taken by the European Union and United States of America regarding illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe following the Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). The programme that effectively co-opted the farm occupations since 1998, redistributed land from white-owned farms and estates, as well as State land to more than 150 000 black farmers under two models, A1 and A2.
Despite the international donors’ conference on land reform and resettlement held in Harare and attended by all major Western countries, where pledges were made, but no subsequent payment was done, the US and its allies resorted to sanctions. The British government of Tony Blair refused to honour the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement on land redistribution funding, and instead caused sanctions to be imposed by the European Union, where it was a member.
But what is critical is that the antagonists started systematically throttling the country, immediately.
The FTLRP triggered an imperial backlash, with the European Union (EU) and the United States imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
This led to the country’s isolation from international financial markets and lack of foreign direct investments.
Subsequently, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) was enacted in 2001 by the US. While sold to the world as targeting few individuals, it has become clearer that sanctions are affecting ordinary citizens.
1999: In September, the IMF suspended its support under a ‘‘Stand By Arrangement’’, approved the previous month, for economic adjustment and reform in Zimbabwe.
In October, the International Development Association (IDA) suspended all structural adjustment loans, credits, and guarantees to the Government of Zimbabwe.
2000: In May, the IDA suspended all other new lending to the Government of Zimbabwe. In September 2000, the IDA suspended disbursement of funds for ongoing projects under previously-approved loans, credits, and guarantees to the Government of Zimbabwe.
The Government of Zimbabwe was unable to participate in programmes created by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Monetary Fund programme (IMF) to assist in the transformation and resuscitation of Zimbabwe’s economy.
Furthermore, they said exclusion of the people of Zimbabwe from the economic and democratic benefits laid out by programme donors, including the United States, was because of “economic mismanagement, undemocratic practices, and the costly deployment of troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo” by the Zimbabwean Government.
2001: Tendai Biti and other MDC officials travelled to the United States of America where they unanimously called for sanctions against Zimbabwe.
In March, ZIDERA was passed and ratified by the United States of America Congress. Immediately Danish International Development Agency’s (DANIDA)withdrew aid funding towards various vertical health programmes to the tune of US$29,7 million. Swedish Government withdrew US$6,4 million worth of grant towards supporting HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, alleviating disability and health education. Access to the Global Fund grant was also turned down.
2002: In February, European Union Foreign Ministers imposed “smart” sanctions against Zimbabwe.
EU said was cutting off 128 million euros in development aid for the 2002-2007 period.
2003: European Airlines like Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France, KLM and Qantas exited the Zimbabwe market. A transport sector support programme funded by DANIDA to the tune of US$48 million was discontinued.
In addition, a labour-based roads and rehabilitation works programme with the aim of rehabilitating 116 kilometres of roads, which was funded by the Swedish government to the tune of US$15,1 million, was discontinued due to sanctions.
2005: Addressing United Nations General Assembly in New York, late former President Robert Mugabe blamed “unilateral sanctions by countries that do not wish Zimbabwe well” for the country’s deepening economic crisis.
2006: IMF executive board upholds sanctions against Zimbabwe. It decided not to restore Zimbabwe’s voting and related rights and not to terminate its ineligibility to use the general resources of the Fund.
2007: A group of white farmers represented by Mike Campbell and Ben Freeth approached the regional court to appeal against their eviction under the fast-track land reform programme. The SADC Tribunal made several important rulings in favour of the white farmers, which the US senators behind ZIDERA now want enforced as a precondition for re-engagement with the US.
2008: China and Russia veto Zimbabwe sanctions.
2011: US added Marange Resources, Mbada Diamonds Mining and Anjin to its sanctions list.
Thousands of Zimbabweans attended a rally organised by former President Mugabe to mark the launch of an anti-sanctions campaign. Over two million signatures were collected to petition the removal of illegal sanctions.
2013: Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which had interests in companies such as Olivine Industries, Sable Chemicals, Chemplex Corporation and Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC) suffered at the hands of America’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2013 when it secured a US$2 million loan from the PTA Bank for plant rehabilitation and raw materials for Olivine which OFAC seized.
Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO), through which Government funds the activities of small businesses to enable retrenched workers to support their families through enterprise, had its US$3 million blocked by OFAC.
Former President Mugabe at the UN General Assembly said: “Shame, shame, shame to the United States of America. Shame, shame, shame to Britain and its allies. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans, so are its resources. Please remove your illegal and filthy sanctions from my peaceful country.”
2014: Former President Mugabe at UN General Assembly said: “Because Zimbabwe has thus been pre-occupied with the empowerment of its people economically, she has become a victim of the evil machinations of Western countries who continually apply unilateral and illegal sanctions as a foreign policy tool to achieve short-term political objectives, particularly regime change.
Regime change is a diabolical illegal policy of interference in the domestic affairs of my country and no good can come from undermining our economy, or depriving our citizens of the necessities of life.”
2016: Nineteen de-risking cases were recorded in 10 of the local banks. OFAC fined Barclays Bank US$2,48 million to resolve potential civil liability for 159 alleged violations of the sanctions regulations by facilitating transactions that took place between July 2008 and September 2013. Agribank and Infrastructure Development Bank also suffered the sanctions carnage. Agribank said the reputational damage caused by sanctions meant that it struggled to find an equity partner and had lost a US$98 million line of credit.
2017: CBZ was slapped with US$3,8 billion fine by OFAC for facilitating transactions on behalf of ZB Bank, which was under ZIDERA sanctions and the penalty was reduced to US$385 million after serious negotiations.
2018: MDC-Alliance leaders Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti engaged different officials in the US Congress late last year to extend the sanctions. Resultantly, the US amended ZIDERA.
2019: APRIL: Standard Chartered Bank is fined US$18 million for violating the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) sanctions on Zimbabwe. The bank closed about 16 branches countrywide recently and only remaining with three.
August 2019: At the 39th SADC Summit of the Heads of State and Government, SADC countries declared October 25 as solidarity day against illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and resolved to conduct various activities in their respective countries on that day to resoundingly call for the immediate removal of the sanctions.
September 2019: In a speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly, President Mnangagwa said: “Since I took over the leadership of Zimbabwe, much has been accomplished, with indicative recovery, stabilisation and growth. Those that impose illegal sanctions must heed this call, and lift them now.”
October 25: Today, Zimbabwe joins the rest of SADC member states in solidarity against sanctions on the country.
Marchers are expected to assemble at Robert Mugabe Square by 6am, from where they will proceed to the National Sports Stadium at 8am for the main event.