The truth about US sanctions on Zimbabwe – even Western Union and Coca Cola are affected


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Most Zimbabweans who are spending hours, if not days, queuing at Western Union to get money sent to them by their relatives abroad may be cursing and blaming President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for their untold suffering.

Yes, Mnangagwa may be to blame for failing to stop the economic suffering in the 16 months that he has been in power, but the failure by Western Union to get enough United States dollars to pay out those sent money by their relatives is in fact one of the effects of the United States Sanctions on Zimbabwe.

This flies in the face of repeated statements by the United States that sanctions on Zimbabwe, in force over the past 16 years, do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans.

The United States embassy in Harare, for example, yesterday posted a series of tweets denying that ordinary Zimbabweans are affected by sanctions which Washington renewed for another year on Wednesday.

“#Truth: The U.S. does not maintain comprehensive sanctions against Zimbabwe. Suggestions that the U.S. intends to harm the Zimbabwean people with sanctions are false and misleading. #FACTS,” the embassy tweeted.

“#Truth: U.S. targeted sanctions list: 84 individuals and 56 entities.  People of Zimbabwe: 16 million +.  Sanctions do not target the people of Zimbabwe. #FACTS.”

“#Truth: U.S. targets sanctions on those who engage in corruption, violate human rights or undermine democratic institutions, not the people of Zimbabwe. #FACTS.”

The truth, which the US does not want to admit and is helped by what one Zimbabwean writer has described as local sanctions denialists, is that US sanctions on Zimbabwe affect every Zimbabwean especially those who get money from abroad as the United States clears all transfers in US dollars.

“The use of the global settlement system – the Swift Codes and other mechanisms in addition to almost total universal surveillance of US dollar transactions, even for transactions that have no bearing on US interests, is proving to be a very serious impediment to global trade and business in general,” Eddie Cross said on his blog on Tuesday.

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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