Joseph Madzimure-Senior Reporter
ILLEGAL economic sanctions imposed by the United States and her allies have negatively affected the business community, which cannot access loans, and even do straightforward transfers for their needs among a host of other trading constraints.
As a result, the country’s business community has lost billions in potential revenue due to the negative effects of the illegal sanctions with conservative estimates putting the cost at US$40 billion in the last two decades.
Zimbabwe has been under illegal economic sanctions for the past two decades as punishment for the land reform programme meant to address colonial land iniquities.
On the whole, the country has been negatively affected by the coercive and illegal measures, which the business community are calling for their unconditional removal.
The main effect of the sanctions is to deny Zimbabwe access to global finance sources and make it difficult to access even normal commercial banking, thus investors have had to dig deep in their pockets to do business in the country.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Mr Christopher Mugaga said sanctions have bled business.
“In fact businesses in Zimbabwe are so isolated to the extent that it is very difficult to do business with foreigners on credit (because) of the high country risk of Zimbabwe coupled with the very knowledge that Zimbabwe is not getting support from the Bretton Woods institutions,” said Mr Mugaga.
Economic analyst Mr Persistent Gwanyanya said Zimbabwean banks have lost mostly United States dollars correspondent banking relationships, which makes it difficult and expensive to do US dollar-denominated cross border transactions.
“Most banks locally are unable to do straightforward US dollar transfers. They have to convert the funds to say Rand or Euros, which will then be converted into US dollars on arrival to the final destination,” said Mr Gwanyanya.
Affirmative Action Group (AAG) president, Mr Mike Chimombe said instead of maintaining the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, the Western world should support the country’s socio-economic strengthening efforts.
“Sanctions are impacting heavily on the country’s economic pillars such as mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and even the banking sector. Zimbabwe used to be the jewel of Africa, but sanctions have impacted negatively on the business environment. They must be removed,” said Mr Chimombe.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said illegal sanctions have damaged the economy, impacting negatively on the poor citizenry.
“They should be removed unconditionally and leave Zimbabwe to chart its own destiny as a people with an array of skills and capabilities, to self-rule,” said Mr Mutashu.
Sanctions, he said are a declaration of war against the people of Zimbabwe.
The country’s biggest association of industries, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has also been calling for its members to join hands in the call for the removal of sanctions.