Chiwenga made these remarks during a gathering at Africa Unity Square in Harare as part of the country’s anti-sanctions day.
Chiwenga argued, “Since 2001, we estimate that Zimbabwe has lost or missed over 150 billion United States dollars through frozen assets, trade embargoes, export and investment restrictions, from potential bilateral donor support, development loans, IMF and World Bank balance of payment support and commercial loans.”
“This has forced our Gross Domestic Product to contract drastically in the two decades that followed the imposition of sanctions.”
Sanctions against Zimbabwe were first imposed by the United States under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA).
This act called for an asset freeze, trade restrictions, and travel embargoes targeting then-President Robert Mugabe, his government allies, military officials, and associated companies.
The European Union, led by former colonial power Britain, also imposed its own sanctions in response to concerns about election irregularities, human rights abuses, and high-level corruption.
The Zimbabwean government asserts that these sanctions were introduced as punishment for Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform program, which involved the seizure of white-owned commercial farmland for redistribution to Black citizens.
Many of these lands had been forcibly taken from Black communities by white colonial settlers in the 19th century.
In a display of solidarity against the sanctions, civil servants, including government permanent secretaries, marched in Harare’s Central Business District on Wednesday, calling for an end to the sanctions.
Zimbabwe’s opposition, however, accuses the government of using sanctions as a scapegoat for the nation’s economic struggles.
Jacqueline Sande, spokesperson for exiled opposition leader Saviour Kasukuwere, criticized the anti-sanctions march, describing it as “a non-event” and an “abuse of civil servants who should be in their offices serving the public.”
She argued that while sanctions should be lifted, they would not be removed through “pointless marches,” and instead urged the government to focus on implementing effective economic policies to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans and improve public infrastructure.
The issue of sanctions against Zimbabwe remains a contentious and polarizing topic, with the government attributing the country’s economic challenges to these measures, while critics argue that domestic policy failures have played a significant role in the country’s economic decline.