By Peacemaker Zano
The recently held African Union (AU) 33rd Ordinary Session Summit in Addis Ababa passed a resolution on ‘The impact of sanctions and the unilateral coercive measures,’ on all African Union member states that are victims of the embargoes, including Zimbabwe.
Of the resolutions agreed on at the AU summit which touched on Zimbabwe was to “(u)rge the Government of the United States of America (US) to lift the long-standing sanctions imposed on the Government and people of Zimbabwe, to facilitate the socio-economic recovery of the country. We acknowledge the steps already taken by the European Union (EU) towards removing sanctions (and) we urge that it takes all the requisite actions to ensure that all remaining sanctions are terminated.”
The resolution that was passed at the AU summit resonates well with the stance by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) members countries which also called for the immediate removal of the illegal embargoes on Zimbabwe. In August 2019, SADC chairperson, President Dr John Magufuli of Tanzania called on the international community to remove sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, arguing that the country had now opened a new chapter and was ready to engage with the rest of the world.
Remarkably, SADC made a declaration that 25 October 2019 be a day of demonstrating anti-sanctions activities across the region, so as to convey a message to western community that the illegal sanctions are indeed violating human rights and should be lifted urgently. Pleasing to note was that all SADC member States collectively voiced their disapproval of sanctions through various activities to ensure that the sanctions are lifted.
Recently, Ghanaian President, Akufo-Addo added his voice to the fight against the sanctions imposed on the country.
“We will continue to call on our peers on the continent to do everything we can to see that the sanctions are lifted as soon as possible so that Zimbabwe will have the freedom to develop to its full potential,” he said.
Soon after the introduction of Land Reform Program in 2000, the US and the European Union (EU) imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwe in retaliation. It is a fact that these punitive measures are having an adverse effect on the economy as a whole. If truth be said, the sanctions have worked to worsen the socio-economic situation in the country.
It should be known that the western community and international bodies such as the EU have been imposing economic sanctions to coerce, punish or shame entities that endanger their interests.
After realising that the Government had taken a decision to empower its indigenous people through land which was occupied by only a few thousand white minorities, the western community decided to unlawfully impose their sanctions on Zimbabwe without a United Nations (UN) resolution. It was so unfortunate that the land issue was politicised, and as such Zimbabwe was unfairly struck by the illegal sanctions.
Economic sanctions include the withdrawal of customary trade and financial relations for foreign and security policy purposes. As things stand, sanctions have negatively affected access to credit lines and the country’s balance of payments (BOP) position deteriorated significantly since the introduction of sanctions.
Additionally, due to Zimbabwe’s failure to honour its financial obligations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank since 1999, the Breton Woods institutions suspended balance of payments. The west argues that its punitive measures are smart sanctions targeting a few individuals but it is the most vulnerable members of the society who are affected the most by the resultant economic challenges which they have to live with daily.
It also boggles the mind to note that the illegal sanctions have a negative impact on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Had it been that the country was not under sanctions; FDI could have stimulated economic growth, enhanced the country’s position of balance of payments as well as creating employment for the majority. This would improve the quality of the people’s lives.
Recently, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Chairman, Senator Jim Risch, (R-Idaho) requested an updated list of people under sanctions in Zimbabwe from its treasury department. Requesting for an updated list of sanctioned Zimbabweans, means that the US is in a way continuing with its efforts of derailing economic progress in Zimbabwe. Their wish is to impose more sanctions on Zimbabwe so that Zimbabwe remains behind in terms of development.
The west has so far paid a deaf ear to the country’s pleas for the removal of the sanctions. The coming in of SADC and the AU demonstrates the continent’s unity of purpose in ensuring that Zimbabwe is freed from the shackles of punitive sanctions. The move is reminiscent of how Africa fought in unity to liberate its member countries.