Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
THE African Union Peace and Security Council has called for the immediate and unconditional lifting of the West’s illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe to foster socio-economic recovery. The 15-member PSC, the only organ mandated to enforce union decisions, spoke in the wake of condescending pronouncements from the Anglo-Saxon alliance that comprises the US, Britain and its dominions — the erstwhile penal colony of Australia and Canada — that they would maintain their sanctions, claiming the July 31 harmonised elections were not free and fair.
These countries — which were barred from observing the elections — have disregarded the opinion of observer teams drawn from the AU, Sadc, Comesa and the ACP countries who all endorsed the harmonised elections as free and fair.
In a statement released at the end of its 392nd meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday, the PSC said the economic sanctions had brought suffering to the Zimbabwean populace, a direct rebuttal of Western claims that the sanctions were ‘’targeted’’ and/or “smart’’.
“In the case of Zimbabwe, council further called for the immediate and unconditional lifting of all sanctions imposed on the country and stressed that the lifting of the sanctions will contribute to socio-economic recovery for the benefit of the long-suffering population of the country,’’ the PSC said
The Western sanctions are estimated to have cost the economy over US$42 billion in lost revenue with outgoing Finance Minister Tendai Biti saying the embargoes shrunk the economy by a factor of over 40 percent over the past 13 years.
Jobs and livelihoods were destroyed, with pensions and savings wiped out when the Zimbabwe dollar collapsed due to sanctions-induced hyperinflation in 2008 with hundreds of people dying from preventable diseases like cholera as Government’s capacity to provide potable water was curtailed.
Over two million Zimbabweans condemned the sanctions during the National Anti-Sanctions petition campaign held in March 2011, with the AU, Sadc, Comesa, the Non-Aligned Movement, African Caribbean and Pacific countries adding their voices, but the West turned a deaf ear in the same manner it went against these bodies over the harmonised elections that were widely hailed as free, fair and credible.
In a communiqué released at the end of the 33rd Summit of Heads of State and Government in Lilongwe, Malawi, Sadc also called for the lifting of the sanctions regimes that have also been condemned by Comesa, the ACP countries and the Non-Aligned Movement, to mention just a few.
The PSC also congratulated Zimbabweans, the political leadership and institutions for upholding the principles enshrined in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
“Council called on all political stakeholders in these countries (Zimbabwe, Togo and Mali) to respect the outcome of the popular vote and continue to maintain a climate of peace and thus contribute to conflict prevention and management on the continent.’’
President Mugabe and Zanu-PF soundly trounced all opposition in the elections.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who attended the meeting, commended the PSC for its support for Zimbabwe despite coming under immense pressure from the Anglo-Saxon alliance that wanted the PSC to condemn the harmonised elections.
“The information which was coming out of Addis Ababa is that members of the PSC had come under tremendous pressure not to endorse Zimbabwe’s elections and the fact that they have, they need to be highly commended for standing up to the truth of what they saw during the elections.
“The British and the US have been exerting pressure on anyone they assumed could have a decision on Zimbabwe’s elections. The decision by the PSC showed that African institutions are resisting external interference in their quest to deliver African solutions to African problems,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said during the meeting he had also raised concern about the continued funding of AU programmes by Western governments.
“During the PSC I made reference to the fact that there is structural weakness in our institutions given that most of our programmes are funded externally. They agreed that this is a point of weakness that needs to be addressed,” he said.
“This is where the notion that he who pays the piper plays the tune and it becomes the justification for seeking to manipulate the assessment of those observers to depart from what they witnessed in Zimbabwe. If Africa is to come of its own it needs to fund its own programmes.”
The only observer group to issue a negative of assessment of the harmonised elections is the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network that received over US$5 million from Western governments to produce a damning report to cast aspersions on Zanu-PF’s long foreseen.
United Nations World Tourism Organisation secretary general Mr Taleb Rifai also hailed the peaceful conduct of the saying it provided a platform for a successful 20th session of the UNWTO general assembly currently underway in Victoria Falls.