By Farirai Machivenyika
THE West’s illegal economic sanctions regime has cost Zimbabwe at least US$42 billion since 2001, with negative effects on vulnerable groups that saw their livelihoods decline to pitiable levels.
In its manifesto, dubbed "Taking back the Economy: Indigenise, Empower, Develop and Create Employment," launched in Harare last Friday, Zanu-PF equated the illegal sanctions to a declaration of war.
"Apart from the debt burden, which threatens the goals of the people, there is also the very serious threat from the sanctions burden in terms of what they have cost the country in monetary terms.
"The illegal sanctions imposed by the West have been equivalent to a declaration of war on Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.
"Since 2001, the illegal sanctions have put the Zimbabwe economy under siege with negative downstream effects on vulnerable groups, communities and civil society.
"These sanctions manifested themselves as financial, trade, cultural, academic, sport embargoes, diplomatic isolation travel bans, freezing of financial accounts of the national leadership, influential individuals in the business community and strategic entities and generally worsening Zimbabwe’s sovereign risk," the manifesto reads.
The US promulgated the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in 2001, that has since been renamed Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, that cut all lines of credit from multilateral lending institutions prompting an assault on, and decimation of the Zimbabwe dollar.
Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF says, lost donor support amounting to approximately US$36 million annually since 2001, US$79 million in loans from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and African Development Bank, commercial loans of US$431 million and GDP reduction of US$3,4 billion.
"The negative publicity created an artificially induced negative national image which attracted high-risk premium on alternative sources of offshore lines of credit and killed the tourism market. It also scared away potential creditors and reduced commercial loans by US$431 million per annum during the 200s.
"Furthermore interruption of trade and constraints on manufacturing and general economic activities saw GDP almost halving from US$7,49 billion in 2000 to US$4 billion in 2010," the manifesto reads.
The revolutionary party added that a number of NGO funded by the same countries that imposed the sanctions emerged in the same period as part of the wider regime change agenda as they were funded so that they could fill the gaps left by Government’s failure to fund social services.
"An obvious and unacceptable threat to the goals of the people is posed by the NGOs that roam the country to peddle influence and whose number of more than 3 000 is scandalously disproportionate to the country’s population.
"Virtually all these NGOs have been founded and funded by the same countries that have imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe for purposes of effecting illegal regime change outside the constitutional and democratic purposes," the manifesto reads.
The EU and its allies who met in London recently under the banner of ‘Friends of Zimbabwe’ announced that they had poured at least US$2,6 billion into the MDC-T aligned NGOs during the lifespan of the inclusive Government under the guise of humanitarian assistance.
Zanu-PF also said as a result of the illegal sanctions the health and education sectors havd been "donorfied" by the ministries that are in the hands of the MDC-T.
"Over the last four years of the GPA Government, a cluster of regime-change donors have taken advantage of the fact that the Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare fell under the opposition formations and they have been pouring funds into the two ministries through illegal parallel structures," added the manifesto.
The party said illegal structured like the Education Transition Fund controlled by David Coltart had been established with the fund being used to undermine local publishing houses as books supplied were printed by foreign companies.
"Even more worrying is the fact that the donor-driven ETF has been specially targeting School Development Committees to transform them into political structures of opposition formations that run schools while also linking up with headmasters, teachers, school children and parents for purposes of political mobilisation at the grassroots level," the manifesto reads.
While Zanu PF has exposed the cost of the illegal sanctions to the country, the MDC-T is however, silent on the issue in its manifesto that was launched on Sunday.
Its manifesto is a regurgitation of the widely discredited JUICE (Jobs, Upliftment, Investment Capital and Environment) policy with the party’s emphasis being on attracting Western funders to revive the economy and disbanding the command of the defence forces and boards of public media organisations.
While the GPA categorically condemned the sanctions US embassy diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks revealed that the MDC-T secretly urged the US and its allies to maintain the sanctions regime.
In April MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai came under attack when he abused his Government website to run a poll asking Zimbabweans whether they wanted sanctions to go.
The "survey" was open to anyone including foreigners and at one showed that 59 percent of the respondents wanted sanctions to stay.
The US and its Western allies imposed the illegal sanctions at the turn of the century as a response to the land reform programme that is meant to correct historical imbalances in land ownership as a result of colonialism.
This was after the Western powers reneged on their promise to fund the resettlement of indigenous Zimbabweans during negotiations at Lancaster House in 1980.