farming in zimbabwe.jpgThe illegal sanctions imposed on the country were a direct response to the land reform programme, which government undertook to correct colonial imbalances and the sanctions’ effects have hit hard on the agricultural sector which is the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy.

It was agriculture, which triggered a bilateral stand-off between Zimbabwe and Britain in 2000.

When Zimbabwe decided to empower her own people who had suffered decades of subjugation due to racist colonial segregation, all hell broke loose and Britain internationalised the dispute by drawing in the European Union (EU) and the United States of America.

Both the US and EU then slapped Zimbabwe with sanctions as punishment for embarking on the land reform programme.

In recent years, numerous efforts have been made by the west to pressure the UN, AU and SADC to support the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe but they have hit a brick wall as the international and regional bodies have noted that the sanctions are indeed illegal.

With land being at the centre of the dispute, the agriculture sector was left in the red as lines of credit and traditional export markets were frozen.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union Chief Economist, Mr Prince Kuipa said the imposition of the illegal sanctions blocked the country’s traditional markets especially in horticulture.

“The horticultural sector is suffering as white farmers accessed specialised markets, which are now inaccessible to the black farmers. Infrastructure has dilapidated with power outages negatively affecting agricultural production,” he said.

Zimbabwe used to have a 9 100 tonne beef export quota to the EU, which was cancelled in 2003 as the West took measures to stifle resettled farmers’ operations.

Even local banks, which wanted to support farmers, were also put under sanctions.

A dairy farmer in Chikomba District, Mr Kenny Chivandire took a swipe at the sanctions as they have blocked financial assistance that is needed by local farmers.
“These sanctions have hurt us, they were imposed with the aim of derailing the empowerment drive being spearheaded by President Mugabe. Even banks that are supposed to be supporting farmers were put on the sanctions list,” said Mr Chivandire.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) has called on both employees and employers to take part in the anti-sanctions petition campaign.