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Sanctions a modern day atrocity: SADC, AU . . . President pays tribute to Africa for unwavering support

Wallace Ruzvidzo-Herald Reporter

THE African Union and the Southern African Development Community have described the unilateral sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe more than 23 years ago by Western countries as a modern day “atrocity” and in unison called for their unconditional removal a gesture described by President Mnangagwa as invaluable.

SADC urged the international community to consider the report made by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur, Professor Alena Douhan, when she came to Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission in 2021, which clearly outlined the dire impact the sanctions continue to have on the generality of Zimbabweans.

SADC and the AU said the illegal sanctions have been detrimental not only to Zimbabwe’s developmental prospects but the region’s economic progress at large.

In a post on his official X handle (formerly Twitter) yesterday, President Mnangagwa paid tribute to the wider African community for its unwavering support for Zimbabwe’s fight against sanctions.

President Mnangagwa

“Thank you Chairperson @AUC_MoussaFaki and the AU for your unwavering support in calling for the unconditional lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe. Your commitment to our socio-economic development and our #Vision2030 for prosperity is invaluable. Together, we stand strong. #AU,” he said.

In 2019, SADC Heads of State and Government set aside October 25 as Anti-Sanctions Day to protest the imposition of illegal sanctions by the United States and its Western allies that include Britain and the European Union.

In his statement yesterday, SADC Chairperson and President of Angola, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, said the bloc would remain steadfast in calling for the removal of the punitive measures as they were hindering Zimbabwe from realising its full potential.

President Lourenço charged the international community to consider and take heed of Professor Douhan’s report, saying it was a true reflection of the impact sanctions continue to have on Zimbabwe.

“The Southern African Development Community (SADC) reaffirms its unwavering solidarity with the Government and people of the Republic of Zimbabwe in calling for the lifting of all sanctions that remain imposed on the Republic of Zimbabwe.

“This appeal by SADC for the immediate lifting of sanctions on the Republic of Zimbabwe rests on the backdrop of growing concern over the impact these sanctions continue to pose on the country and the SADC region.

“It is now over 20 years since the imposition of these targeted sanctions — two decades marred by the inability of the people of Zimbabwe to fully achieve their potentials across various sectors as a nation.

“SADC, therefore, reiterates its wish that the International Community factors the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, made by Alena Douhan, on her visit to Zimbabwe (A/HRC/51/33/Add.2), which proposes the lifting of these sanctions within the ambit of key principles of International Law,” he said.

An unconditional lifting of sanctions, said the SADC Chairperson, would see Zimbabwe and the region developing and consolidating gains from their respective efforts.

President Lourenço said it was now imperative that the sanctions are an unsavoury tag on the country’s image that has blocked the country from accessing vital lines of credit.

“This reality, which is not new to the International Community, damages Zimbabwe’s image and limits its potential for access to financial and capital markets. The extent of this block to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic growth on the livelihood of its people represents a modern-day atrocity which we, as the SADC Family, strongly feel is an impediment that leaves one of our members behind from our common quest for regional integration, growth and prosperity.

“Our call for lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe is made as a firm request to the International Community for a new rhetoric, story and direction for the country. An unconditional lifting of sanctions shall create the conditions for Zimbabwe and the SADC region to consolidate its collective efforts to spearhead national and regional growth and substantively develop in critical areas of good governance, human rights and social cohesion.

“It is, therefore, incumbent on all parties concerned to do our part in re-writing the discourse for the Government and people of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” he said.

President Lourenço said the continuous imposition of sanctions was a “double-imposed” threat, especially considering the current global instability wrought by various issues including conflicts.

However, he assured Zimbabwe of the regional bloc’s continued support.

“In a time where global insecurities pose food security and other pertinent challenges to the African continent and SADC region, the sanctions imposed on the Republic of Zimbabwe create an alarming double-imposed threat to its peoples’ livelihood and survival.

“As SADC, we remain welcoming to support, through the necessary means, the earnest lifting of sanctions on the Republic of Zimbabwe and trust that the humanity we share as the global community shall guide the relevant move in this direction by all relevant actors through tangible actions,” President Lourenço said.

In a separate statement, AU Chairperson, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, said the AU firmly stood behind the unconditional removal of the illegal embargo on Zimbabwe.

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat

“The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat once again renews the longstanding AU demand for the immediate and unconditional lifting of sanctions imposed against institutions and individuals of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and in full support of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) position on the issue.

“The Chairperson wishes to acknowledge subsequent engagement with the European Union through political dialogue, as encouraging. In this regard, the Chairperson encourages all parties to continue dialogue with a view to end all remaining sanctions against Zimbabwe,” he said.

“The Chairperson reaffirms the continued commitment of the African Union to support the brotherly nation of Zimbabwe in mobilising efforts for the complete lifting of all remaining sanctions.”

The AU, said Mr Mahamat, was “extremely concerned” by the adverse effects these sanctions continued to have on Zimbabweans.

“The Chairperson, however, remains extremely concerned by the negative impact the sanctions continue to have on Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development amid the current global food and energy crises, including post Covid-19 recovery efforts.

“In this regard, the African Union associates itself with the statement made by President João Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola and current Chairperson of SADC, on the subject,” he said.