Anti-sanctions lobby group Broad Alliance Against Sanctions (BAAS) has handed over letters to the American Embassy in Zimbabwe inviting African-American congressional members to visit the country and witness the negative impact of US-imposed sanctions.
"The first letter that we submitted was to the ambassador, whereby we were asking him to submit the other 66 letters for us to the black congressional members in a bid to lure them to come to visit our vigil site and see how these sanctions have actually hurt the ordinary citizens in Zimbabwe," Sally Ngoni, Co-founder and Spokesperson of BAAS told Xinhua.
The letters were handed over to Regional Security Officer at the US Embassy Timothy Corso by BAAS Co-founder and Chairman Calvern Chitsunge on Tuesday. In March 2019, BAAS set up a camp at the main entrance of the U.S. Embassy as a protest against the imposition of sanctions. The group said the camp will only be dismantled if sanctions are lifted.
Ngoni urged African-American congressional members to voice their support for Zimbabwe's fight against sanctions. "We are hoping that since we sent the letters to the black congressional members in America, they are the people with the same background as us. Their origins are from Africa, we are hoping that they will be compassionate with their fellow African brothers and sisters, that is us the Zimbabweans, and actually feel how these sanctions have actually caused pain to the ordinary citizens," Ngoni said.
She said contrary to the claim that sanctions are targeting few individuals, they are affecting the whole economy.
"You realise that most companies are actually scared of doing business in Zimbabwe because of sanctions. We have seen many banks being fined for carrying out certain transactions in Zimbabwe by countries like the U.S.A.," Ngoni said. She said the lobby group's efforts have resulted in the removal of some state entities from the sanctions list.
"We have seen a lot of changes, for example, we saw Infrastructure Development Bank and Agribank being removed from the sanctions list," said Ngoni. "We have also had several engagements with the American Ambassador telling him our own side of the story as ordinary citizens, showing him how us as ordinary citizens have suffered from these sanctions and we hope that one day the sanctions will be unconditionally removed," she added.
Sanctions were imposed in early 2000s after Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform program during which the country re-possessed land from minority white farmers for redistribution to landless indigenous Zimbabweans. While the United States argues that sanctions are targeted on a few individuals and entities, the Zimbabwean government says the impact of sanctions is being felt throughout the whole economy. Analysts say as a result of the sanctions, especially the United States' Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), Zimbabwe has not fully enjoyed support from international financial institutions.
Yahya Abdullar, a local resident, said no Zimbabwean has been spared by the sanctions.
"The sanctions are affecting Zimbabweans as well as the street kids, to the extent that they cannot even be able to pick anything to eat from the bins," he told Xinhua. Last October, Alena Douhan, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, visited Zimbabwe to assess the impact of sanctions on the country and she concluded that sanctions had worsened the pre-existing economic challenges in the country.