SANF 21 no 45 – by Clarkson Mambo
“These sanctions have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their government, but the entire region. It is like a human body, when you chop one of its parts, it affects the whole body.”
“We should unite to support Zimbabwe against sanctions imposed by western countries because they are hurting Zimbabweans and people from across member states.”
The late President of the United Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli said these words at the 39th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit held in August 2019.
As the then chair of SADC, President Magufuli said it was critical for the region to stand together on matters of principle such as calling for the immediate and unconditional scrapping of western sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe two decades ago.
And indeed, the region made an important statement at the 39th SADC Summit when southern African leaders declared October 25 as the date on which SADC Member States can collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted.
At the first anniversary of the regional anti-sanctions day in October 2020, the then SADC chairperson, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique said the embargo on Zimbabwe was no longer relevant and should be removed to allow the country to focus on sustainable development.
“For SADC as a region, the call for the unconditional removal of sanctions assumes even greater importance,” President Nyusi said.
“It is not just a solidarity call in support of Zimbabwe, but also a clarion call for justice, fairness and full enjoyment of human rights. The sanctions are no longer relevant, and are detrimental to the socio-economic development and self-determination of Zimbabweans.”
Zimbabwe has grappled with economic sanctions since 2002 when the United States through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) imposed an embargo on the country in response to the land reform programme and the leading role played by Zimbabwe in the SADC intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998 in support of the government there.
For example, the country has not been able to freely access international funds while state owned companies have had their foreign funds frozen.
Ultimately, ordinary citizens have been affected the most through economic decline, and failure to use some international services such as foreign currency remittances.
As SADC prepares for the second anniversary of the regional anti-sanctions day on 25 October, the United Nations (UN) has dispatched its Special Rapporteur to Zimbabwe to look into the negative impact of the sanctions.
The UN Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan will be in Zimbabwe on 18-28 October, and on 18 October met President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.
Douhan and her team will collect information and hold a series of meetings with government authorities, civil society organizations, private sector and opposition.
She will present a public report on the country visit to the UN Human Rights Council during its 51st Session scheduled for September 2022.
“The purpose of the mission is to examine, in the spirit of co-operation and dialogue, whether and to what extent the adoption, maintenance or implementation of unilateral sanctions impedes the full realization of the rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, in particular the right of individuals and peoples to development,” reads part of a statement released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The fact-finding mission by Douhan follows a Human Rights Council resolution 34/13 which stresses that unilateral coercive measures and legislation are contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, the Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among states.
The resolution highlights that these sanctions in the long-term result in social problems and raise humanitarian concerns in the targeted countries.
President Mnangagwa has at numerous fora highlighted the negative impact of the sanctions on the country and its citizens,
“The unjustified and oppressive illegal sanctions continue to cause untold suffering to the ordinary people of our great country. Their direct and indirect debilitating impacts have equally been felt by our neighbours” he said, adding that “the illegal sanctions are an albatross to development, well-being and prosperity of the people of Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is grateful to SADC for its unwavering support in calling for the immediate and unconditional removal of illegal sanctions imposed on the country, as well as declaring 25 October as a day for the region to show its support.
As a part of commemorations, various activities and platforms will be held by SADC Member States to voice their disapproval of the sanctions.
In Zimbabwe, SADC Ambassadors based in Harare will host an event to show their solidarity and support in the campaign against continued imposition of sanctions.
“We must show that we are really standing with our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe,” said outgoing Malawi ambassador to Zimbabwe, Annie Kumwenda, adding that “a problem for any nation in SADC is a problem for all of us, the success of any nation in SADC is also our success.”
Malawi is the current chair of SADC. sardc.net
Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.
This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.
SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985. Email sanf[at]sardc.net
Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa www.sardc.net Knowledge for Development