How Sanctions have Affected Zimbabwean Freelancers
Freelancers across Zimbabwe have welcomed the new dispensation’s move to reengage with the global community in order to have the sanctions that were imposed on the country removed. The move will go a long way in removing some of the impediments that have prevented hundreds of people in the country from making a living over the internet. So, why is the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe so important, and are the measures not targetted soley at politicians?
For Freelancers, Sanctions on Zimbabwe are Real
The issue of sanctions is an emotive one in Zimbabwe, often eliciting rather diverse views. For the opposition, the belief is that the sanctions have only been targeted at top government officials, and do no, therefore, affect ordinary Zimbabweans.
Dare we say that this is a same argument that is given by the United States and her allies. For the ruling party, however, the sanctions are very much real. Not only that, but they are also a useful propaganda tool that is dredged up each time the country heads for elections.
Whatever side of the isle one stands on, the fact is that freelancers have, over the past few years, found themselves in difficult positions as a result of the said sanctions. How is that?
Banned from Upwork
Just to illustrate how that is the case, we revealed, some time ago, that Upwork had banned all Zimbabwe based freelancers from operating on the platform. And why is this important? Well, for the simple reason that Upwork is the world’s foremost freelancing website.
The reason given by Upwork for this rather unfortunate ban is that companies are prohibited by some United States law or the other from doing business with Zimbabweans. Although not kicked off entirely, all freelancers who are based in Zimbabwe now have a notice bearing the fact on their accounts, which means that they can no longer be hired.
The irony in this instances is that most of our clients, before the ban from Upwork, were actually based in India, Australia, and other parts of the globe. The result was that we would actually pay thousands of dollars in taxes to the United States government through Upwork charges and fees.
Banned from PayPal
The issue of PayPal is another that has proven to be debilitating for Zimbabwe’s freelance community. Again, we have previously written an article in which we point out the fact that Paypal does not allow the transfer of money to Zimbabweans.
That is despite the fact that Zimbabweans are free to open accounts and use their cards to make payments to companies outside the country. We have, as an example, often bought things from Amazon and eBay using our PayPal account, which is connected to our Standard Chartered Zimbabwe bank acount.
Now, we run this website from Zimbabwe, and have, quite a number of times, stumbled when trying to get paid by international advertisers and others.
Fortunately, Payoneer still allows Zimbabweans to get paid for online work, which has allowed us to continue doing our work.
The Removal of Sanctions on Zimbabwe is long overdue
Zimbabweans, it appears, are born with countless hurdles placed near their feet. Most of them are quite needless, including the issue of sanctions, which, considering the revelations of corruption that are now being made, never actually affected their intended targets.
It was, rather, the ordinary man or woman who makes $10 a day working online who suffered the most. Hence the call from freelancers for the Mnangagwa government to carry on with its commendable attempts to reengage with the international community.