BY MUGOVE TAFIRENYIKA

THE visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Alena Douhan, pictured, yesterday called on the United States of America (USA) and its western allies to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe and instead engage authorities  in dialogue over instituting political reforms.

This comes as the government says its efforts to have meaningful engagement with the USA are being hindered by some Zimbabweans who are critical of the government.

Now, Douhan  who was in the country for two weeks to assess the impact of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the USA, United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU), says the punitive measures must be scrapped and allow initiation of dialogue with Harare over implementation of political reforms.

“The US and other states should lift their sanctions targeted on individuals and entities and end over-compliance.

“The time is ripe for sanctioning states and key stakeholders to engage in a meaningful structured dialogue on political reform, human rights and the rule of law and abandon rhetoric on sanctions as an advocacy tool.

 “Over the last 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over compliance with sanctions have had insidious ripple effects on the economy of Zimbabwe and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation, education and employment,” Douhan said at the end of her two weeks’ visit yesterday.

During her stay, Douhan visited Harare and Bulawayo where she held meetings with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, senior government officials, members of the civil society, trade unions, faith-based organisations, political parties, private companies and business associations, the diplomatic corps and other stakeholders.

“The situation also limits Zimbabwe’s ability to guarantee the functioning of public institutions, delivery of service and maintenance of essential infrastructure and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals,” she added.

The envoy, who was in the country upon invitation by the Zimbabwean government, appreciated the collaboration of all parties she engaged with saying it “enabled her to objectively assess the situation based on the facts presented”

She bemoaned the fact that several companies as well as foreign banks, applied zero-risk policies in dealing with Zimbabwe and were overly compliant, fearing heavy penalties for breaching the sanctions.

“This has resulted in inefficient high-cost banking transactions, serious challenges in accessing credit lines and major disruptions in supply chains, which impinge the ability to secure infrastructure financing and business continuity,” Douhan said, noting the sanctions were also fuelling corruption and money laundering and overreliance on the informal sector.

All this comes as the government has accused pro-democracy groups and the opposition of stifling meaning dialogue with the USA.

Speaking in the Senate last Thursday, deputy Foreign Affairs minister David Musabayana said, however, that authorities remained committed to improving Harare’s relations with Washington.

“Like what we did in an endeavour to normalise relations with the European Union (EU), where we formed dialogue, we are now working on formalising and making a platform by having dialogue between Zimbabwe and the US.

“What is disturbing us is that right now they are changing goal posts, but that is simply due to the fact that some of our citizens are continuously disrupting our efforts by sending bad signals.

“Most of the people that we meet are surprised when they come here. They always say that what we hear and what we see are totally different things,” Musabayana said.

He added that the government’s re-engagement efforts with the EU were continuing, with most of the countries within the bloc allegedly eager to normalise relations.

All this comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration have been trying to mend Zimbabwe’s frosty relations with the West, which soured badly during the reign of the late former president Robert Mugabe’s time in office. – Daily News