By Gift Mashoko
Sanctions placed on Zimbabwe are erroneously said to be targeted on a few individuals and selected companies. I am simple Zimbabwean woman and I have a harrowing tale that is shared by many a Zimbabwean woman who have been stripped of their dignity and self-respect as their rights to a normal life under these illegal sanctions have been violated and can only be called “hell on earth”.
As a woman in her late thirties, I had my life figured out. I would have a family and a prosperous career, the epitome of a successful modern woman. Those were normal dreams for a young girl in Zimbabwe before the curse of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by West rendered them inaccessible. Instead of a happy family, my marriage of almost ten years is tottering on the brink of collapse as my husband left in search for greener pastures a few years back after the company he worked for made him redundant for some time. This has upset the traditional family structure as I am being forced to assume the role of both parents, a burden which has left me reeling. I am praying for the day when these sanctions would be removed so that the industries reopen and my husband comes back so that we live as a family as God intended.
In the meantime, I have to make sure that my children are well-fed, clothed and sheltered. This is hoping the landlord, does not increase rent again this month. For the past few months, I have been dreading encountering the landlord as she takes the opportunity to inform me that because of the current harsh prevailing economic environment, rent has to go up as well. What makes lie awake at night is the threat that the landlord will now ask for foreign currency as many other landlords are doing in defiance of government directive that Zimbabwe has now has a mono-currency, the RTGS dollar.
To make ends meet, I have to supplement the little that my husband is sending to keep hunger and poverty wrought by these illegal sanctions at bay. As I write my job is on the line as the company I work for is considering either shutting down or retrenching as a result of these illegal sanctions. If the company retrenches, I know my name will be on the list as I have refused sexual advances from my boss, putting me on the warpath with him.
My burden is further exacerbated as I have to look after my extended family alone as a woman. I have been staying with my brother-in-law’s two teenage sons who passed away. I have no money for them to continue to university and there is no employment to be had and they are left at home brewing mischief, as an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
My in-laws in rural areas need constant public health care because of their advanced age. The public health systems have deteriorated over the years because of non-renewal of dilapidated equipment and non-availability of essential medicines, all as a result of the illegal sanctions. The doctors’ strike has made a bad situation even worse and there is no reprieve in sight.
As the prices of basic goods and service increase on a daily basis, I have to adjust my family needs and this has led me to be diagnosed with hyper-tension, a disease I don’t need at this moment as medication for such simple ailments has gone beyond the reach of many making them a death warrant.
My security as a woman has been affected by these sanctions. Crime rates seem to have shot up seeing that a number of women are being robbed in the streets in broad daylight. The robbers are also targeting houses were they know that the husbands are not present because they know the women are defenceless.
My life as a woman in Zimbabwe is not a bed of roses in a country riddled with sanctions. I feel very angry when people say the sanctions are “targeted”. Targeted my foot. The EU and USA should consider the plight of us women, as we are bearing the worst blunt of these heinous sanctions. It’s time to remove sanctions as they have failed in their quest to remove a Zanu PF-led government for these past two decades except make the vulnerable members of society suffer beyond one’s imagination.