The Southern African Development Community (SADC) yesterday walked the talk on the anti-sanctions campaign in solidarity with Zimbabwe, with member states conducting different activities to pressure the United States of America (USA) and its Western allies to lift the almost two-decades-old embargo.
Sadc — at its summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — designated October 25 as the day for regional solidarity against the embargo on Zimbabwe, evoking memories of the former Frontline States regional fraternity against imperialism.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) consisting of all African Union (AU) member states, threw its weight behind Sadc in supporting the Zimbabwean cause.
In a statement issued yesterday, SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax reiterated the block’s call for the removal of all forms of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe to pave way for socio-economic transformation and economic development.
She said the sanctions have had a cross-cutting effect on the country’s economy and some of the results have been the reduction in the contribution of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 40 percent to 14 percent.
She said the sanctions had constricted sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, aviation and tourism and put pressure on social services of the country’s neighbours as well as disrupting trade.
“Regardless of the terms used to define the sanctions, international finance and investment entities take a pre-cautionary approach, and inadvertently restrict the extension of financial support to Zimbabwe, and investment across economic sectors.
“This is contrary to the argument that the sanctions are targeted at individuals, and do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans and the region. This situation negatively affects the prospects for economic recovery,” she said.
“SADC, therefore, calls upon the European Union, the United States of America, multilateral organisations, and international community to recognise that sanctions on Zimbabwe have far-reaching social, economic and financial implications, which not only affect Zimbabwe’s economy and Zimbabweans, but also affect the region at large.
“Once again, SADC reiterates its call for the immediate removal of all forms of sanctions on Zimbabwe to pave way for socio-economic transformation and economic development of Zimbabwe. The removal of sanctions will benefit Zimbabweans and the SADC region, as well as,enhance cooperation of SADC with the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA).”
In terms of activities political parties, religious leaders and various groups under Zimbabwe’s Coalition Against Sanctions in South Africa marched to the US Embassy in Pretoria where they handed over memorandums to the US and European Union demanding the removal of the sanctions by the West and calling on the United Nations to declare them illegal.
ANC Gauteng provincial secretary Mr Jacob Khawe who addressed the participants outside the US Embassy in Pretoria said sanctions against Zimbabwe were affecting the region and South Africa in particular.
“Zimbabweans have been converted to homeless people by these sanctions. They are going all over the world trying to earn a living because of these sanctions. We want Zimbabweans to solve their problems in Zimbabwe and we are asking America and the EU to lift these sanctions with immediate effect.
“We call upon the UN to declare the sanctions against Zimbabwe, illegal,” said Mr Khawe.
ANC secretary general Mr Ace Mogashule and his delegation joined their Zimbabwean counterparts in Matabeleland South province for a march which started at DA’s office in Beitbridge and ended at Dulibadzimu stadium, where anti-sanction speeches were made.
Prominent South African church leader Paseka Motsoeneng, threatened to confront the United States embassy to formally protest illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
Pastor Motsoeneng, who blessed the march with a prayer, said sanctions must go.
“As Africans, we have now clearly seen Americans and its European Union (EU) allies as the greatest liability obstructing development in growing economies owing to their bone marrow racism driven by both hegemonic and greedy,” South African Themba Msomi was quoted saying during the march.
In Tanzania, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Corporation organised public lecture at the University of Dar-es-salaam with different experts on the impact of sanctions against Zimbabwe on the SADC region and reiterated the need to remove them as a matter of urgency.
Former Tanzanian Prime Minister Judge Joseph Warioba said sanctions were tantamount to new war against a weaker State by superpowers urging the US and EU to remove them quickly.
In Malawi, SADC heads of mission accredited and based in Lilongwe addressed said sanctions have deterred progress of Zimbabwe and its people resulting in devastating socio-economic effects.
Speaking on behalf of the attending diplomats from Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Tanzania’s Ambassador to Malawi Benedicto Martin Mashiba said removal of sanctions should usher in a new chapter for Zimbabwe.
“We are confident that lifting sanctions is key to restoring Zimbabwe to its previous glory as the bread basket of the SADC region as well as eliminating any form of socio-economic dissonance that has long hindered the prosperity of the African continent,” said Ambassador Mashiba.
He said as SADC Member States, they remain in solidarity with Zimbabwe and called for the unconditional and immediate removal of sanction.
“We therefore, call upon all concerned parties to make earnest and concerted efforts towards the ratification and resumption of Zimbabwe’s resurgence in the global market as we seek for the removal of sanctions that delay their economic development,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, the PRC said it supported the call made by the Heads of State and Government of SADC in the communiqué of the 39th SADC Summit held in Tanzania, to lift the sanctions with the aim of supporting socio-economic recovery in the country.
“The PRC of the African Union expressed their solidarity with the Government and peoples of Zimbabwe and committed to support the efforts aiming at enhancing Zimbabwe’s development and economic recovery,” said the PRC.
In their meeting at the AU headquarters on Wednesday, PRC noted the “adverse effects the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have had on the overall economic situation of the country, in addition to the detrimental social impacts that have led collectively to the decline in the living standards of the citizens and aggravated the situation of the most vulnerable groups”.