The United States, European Union and United Kingdom vigorously pushed back on charges by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that sanctions are behind the economic collapse and the general poverty in the country.
Zimbabwe has set aside October 25 as an ‘Anti-Sanctions Day’ to push for the removal of the targeted sanctions imposed nearly two decades ago as punishment for human rights violations and electoral fraud.
In response to a deluge of stories and opinion pieces in the state-controlled media blaming the western countries for Zimbabwe’s woes, the US, UK and EU missions in Harare used social media to explain their positions.
James Duddridge, the UK minister for Africa, said London’s targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe were meant to rein in officials behind human rights violations.
“The UK stands up for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
“Our sanctions only target those, who disregard these values in Zimbabwe and across the world,” Duddridge said on Twitter.
“The UK is committed to tackling corruption and ensuring a better future for Zimbabweans.”
British ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson echoed the minister’s statements, saying the southern African country was being hurt by corruption and not sanctions as claimed by Mnangagwa’s government.
“Sanctions are a response to human rights violations. They don’t target ordinary citizens,” Robinson tweeted.
“The UK is on the side of the Zimbabwean people.
“In 2020-21 we’re providing $176 million aid — reducing poverty, fighting Covid-19, standing up for human rights and the rule of law.”
She added: “There’s no UK trade embargo on Zimbabwe: we’ve just welcomed Zimbabwe’s ratification of an (Economic Partnership Agreement), which will mean exporters continue to enjoy tariff and quota-free access to the UK market.
“The UK is Zimbabwe’s 19th largest export market.”
The US and EU missions in Zimbabwe were also active on Twitter responding to government’s claims.
US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said e-galas, protests or seeking international solidarity against the embargo was a waste of energy.
He advised Mnangagwa to invest in reforms that he himself promised for the sanctions to be removed.
Nichols said despite the targeted sanctions, the US has stood by the people of Zimbabwe and worked together to promote democratic institutions, equitable economic growth, public health, and food security, which has seen the superpower fork out US$3,5 billion to Harare since 1980.
The US remains the largest provider of health and humanitarian assistance, including the US President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief, food assistance, and disaster relief, to the people of Zimbabwe.
The EU said their only restrictive measures were against state-owned company Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
“The EU restrictive measures are a ban for European companies to do business with Zimbabwe Defence Industries and to sell arms to Zimbabwe,” the EU mission tweeted.
“That’s all. The EU has not imposed anything else on Zimbabwe.
“There is no evidence that the Zimbabwean economy is affected negatively by EU restrictive measures.
“There are no legal restrictions on EU investment entering Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe’s campaign against sanctions has received support from the Southern African Development Community, which says Mnangagwa is committed to reforms.
The ruling Zanu PF accuses the opposition, especially the MDC Alliance, of campaigning for the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, the opposition says Zanu PF invited the sanctions by failing to respect the rule of law and abusing human rights.