Onus on West to remove sanctions: Mthuli

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube says the government is doing all it can to get sanctions removed as he blamed the West for failing to recognise the progress that has been made by Zimbabwe in implementing political and economic reforms.

Zimbabwe has been under sanctions from the United States of America, Britain and the European Union for two decades. The sanctions were imposed soon after the country embarked on the fast track land reform programme.

The western countries cited human rights abuses by the Zimbabwe authorities against political opponents as they imposed the sanctions on a number of business entities and political figures within the Zanu PF administration.

“We are not responsible for sanctions. Someone just has to lift them. We are trying our best. We have done political reforms. We have done economic reforms. We have even structured a deal to pay the (displaced white commercial) farmers for improvements on land. All those things are part of the matrix of political reforms which are linked to the sanctions agenda. Frankly, we have really worked hard on this issue but the sanctions are still here,” Ncube told the Daily News breakfast forum in Harare yesterday.

“I don’t think this is a failure on our part but it is failure on the other side to recognise, in my view, the progress that we have made. I think we have made very good progress in the last four years. But I am hopeful that one day they will be removed. We will continue on this path of reforms. That hopefully will improve our relations with our colleagues outside,” Ncube added.

On July 29, 2020, the Zimbabwe government, the Commercial Farmers Union and the Southern African Commercial Farmers Alliance signed an agreement to compensate farmers dispossessed under the land redistribution programme for the loss of their assets, but not the land.

In terms of the agreement, the farmers would receive US$3,5 billion spread over five years, starting from July 2021.

The agreement had the support of 2 759 farmers out of 2 896 who voted before it was signed, amounting to 95 percent. There were 137 votes against the deal. 

The government has been trying to mobilise international financial support for the scheme. However, institutions such as the World Bank have said they will not finance the deal.

The government also plans to borrow on international capital markets, using debt instruments extending to as much as 30 years.

The government has repealed the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) under which critics said public officials were shielded from public gaze.

Officials say these are among significant reforms that have been made by the administration but criticism remains.

 The European Union has since removed the majority of its restrictions on Harare but the Zimbabwean government says American sanctions are the most punitive as they severely limit the country’s access to international finance markets.