Sifelani Tsiko Senior Writer
Zimbabwe has endured the intolerable and 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 specialised medicine and other important national services that require imported machinery and equipment.
The US, 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 destabilise it.
Zimbabwe’s counter strategy has been 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 organisations, the African Union (AU), Russia, China and many others, have called on Western governments to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
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.
In this report, The Herald captures the voices of African leaders calling for UN reform, removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe and Cuba, as well as support for the struggling peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara.
President Hage Geingob of Namibia
“As a nation that has experienced the outpouring of international solidarity during the dark days of our struggle for independence, we wish to express our continued support for the right to self-determination and freedom of the peoples of Palestine and of Western Sahara.
We also hope that the search for the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Western Sahara will be concluded very soon. Furthermore, we express our support for a settlement that will bring a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Despite the political and diplomatic setbacks, in particular continued threats of annexation of Palestinian territory, we remain hopeful for a fair and comprehensive peace solution that will guarantee the rights of all Palestinian peoples and ensure their return to their homes, while safeguarding peace and security to the Israeli people as well.
“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. 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. Mr. President, Namibia reiterates her deep concern over the continuation of the extraterritorial economic, financial and commercial embargo imposed on the people of Cuba. We continue to express our support for the Government and people of Cuba and call for the unconditional lifting of the embargo, and for respect of the sovereignty of Cuba. In the spirit of creating a more just, peaceful and caring world in which we foster peaceful and harmonious coexistence amongst all nations, Namibia looks forward to the day when relations between the United States of America and Cuba will be restored fully. For the past 75 years, the United Nations has distinguished itself as a champion for equality and unity. At this critical time, when we are faced with a multitude of challenges that threaten our future, we look upon this great organisation to once again, provide the definitive answers to our problems. Therefore, let us embrace one another and pull together in the spirit of multi-lateralism, in the interest of defeating Covid-19, in the interest of achieving the SDGs and in the interest of safeguarding global peace and the human dignity of every man, woman and child in the world.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa
“When the Secretary-General António Guterres delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in July 2020, he called on the nations of the world to forge a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal. He said we must create equal opportunities for all, that we must advance a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system, that debt architecture must be reformed, and that there should be greater access to affordable credit for developing countries.
It is a call we as South Africa wholly endorse.
It is in the spirit of this New Global Deal, that we call on the international community and our international partners to support the roll-out of a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries. This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of COVID-19 but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies.
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.
On the 75th anniversary of the UN we repeat our call for greater representation of African countries on the Security Council, and that this be taken up with urgency at the Intergovernmental Negotiations. It is only through a reformed and inclusive UN Security Council that we will be able to collectively resolve some of the world’s most protracted conflicts. As we celebrate the founding of an organisation dedicated to freedom and equality, the people of Palestine and Western Sahara continue to live under occupation.
We repeat our call for an end to the illegal occupation of Western Sahara and for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. We further call for the lifting of the economic embargo and blockade of Cuba.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya
“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.
It is also Kenya’s desire to see, at this critical and historical juncture, an inspiration for peace between Palestine and Israel. Kenya calls for renewed and genuine international efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict, based on the existence of two States, the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, within the framework of the relevant United Nations pronouncements.