Africa Joins Zimbabwe In Demanding End To Western Sanctions

 Steps Up Anti-sanctions Crusade
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Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders have stepped up the demands for lifting of Westrern economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Zimbabwe is ramping up preparations to mark the first anniversary of the SADC anti-sanctions campaign which largely aims to rally support from Africa and other progressive forces worldwide in calling for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the West on the southern African nation.

Zimbabwe has endured the crushing impact of economic sanctions for almost two decades. This has largely affected economic growth as the country is not accessing lines of credit to boost productivity and even address other wider social and health issues such as the novel coronavirus pandemic, HIV and Aids, cancer and other new and emerging diseases.

Sanctions have inflicted considerable economic harm on Zimbabwe and this has been felt in a number of sectors. Lack of access to the global financial system has contributed to the suffering of masses as they suffer from shortages of specialized medicine and other important national services that require imported machinery and equipment.

The U.S., Britain and other Western countries are still presenting the sanctions' impact by no metric other than their quantity and severity. There appears to be a belief among Western politicians, almost congealed into doctrine, that Zimbabwe will cave to nothing less than massive pressure, a point it clearly has not reached.

Sanctions have largely failed to yield what the Western countries wanted. Convinced that Western countries are bent on toppling the Zimbabwe government, the leadership here views economic sanctions as just one in a range of measures designed to destabilize it. Zimbabwe's counter strategy has been to resist and survive. Through thick and thin, Zimbabwe has managed to get around sanctions and keep state and society afloat.

Regime change has to be taken off the table as well as coercive diplomacy. Zimbabwe's re-engagement policy and the lifting of sanctions is the only realistic way forward. Several organizations and countries, including the African Union (AU), Russia, China and many others, have called on Western governments to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was punished for embarking on the land reform program with the aim of addressing land imbalances and economically empowering its people in 2000.

The move was met with harsh responses from the country’s detractors which saw the European Union (EU) and the United States imposing restrictive economic sanctions through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA). Zimbabwe has set 25 October, the day it got regional support from SADC in 2019 as a day to raise the country’s anti-sanctions profile globally. All SADC member states say the removal of illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West will benefit the whole region. In separate addresses to the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly held recently, more African leaders joined other world leaders to call for the lifting of the restrictive measures on Zimbabwe and Cuba. Through this, Zimbabwe has gained an air of vindication in its fight against the unending stream of sanctions imposed on it. 

"As the world combats the Covid-19 pandemic, some Member States face more obstacles in combating this virus than others, including those which have sanctions imposed on them,” President Hage Geingob of Namibia said, during his address. “In support of the pursuit of economic development, unity and prosperity for the sister country of Zimbabwe, I once again call on the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been pursuing reforms that will enable the people of Zimbabwe to get on a path of sustainable development and peace. Therefore, the continued sanctions undermine these efforts to develop the people of Zimbabwe.” 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “To ensure that no country is left behind we reiterate our position as the African Union that economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan should be lifted to allow their governments to respond adequately to the pandemic. The current composition of the Security Council does not reflect the world in which we live.” 

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said, "The Secretary-General's recent appeal for a global ceasefire also includes a humanitarian call for the roll-back of international sanctions and to reinforce the efforts of vulnerable, fragile and conflict-affected countries, to deal with the impact of Covid-19. I state today that Kenya stands behind this initiative. In this connection, I wish to make a special appeal for an end to the economic and commercial as well as financial embargo against Cuba, sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan. The United Nations provides us a platform, a platform to resolve age old differences and unburden ourselves of these antiquated conflicts.”

Various organizations in Zimbabwe will participate in the October 25 solidarity event calling on the lifting of sanctions imposed on the country by the West.

Sifelani Tsiko is a veteran Zimbabwean journalist based in Harare.

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