Fungi Kwaramba Political Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday met United Nations (UN) special rapporteur, Ms Alena Douhan, who is in the country to assess the impact of unilateral coercive measures imposed on the country by the United States (US) and its allies.
She is on a 10-day fact-finding mission whose outcome is expected to give the world a clear picture of the debilitating effects of the illegal sanctions.
The high-profile visit by Ms Douhan, follows the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 34/13 of 2017, which stresses that unilateral coercive measures and legislation were contrary to international law, international humanitarian law, the charter and norms and principles governing peaceful relations among states.
The resolution highlights the fact that these sanctions in the long-term result in social problems and raise humanitarian concerns in the states targeted.
Over the past two decades, Zimbabwe has been groaning under the weight of illegal economic sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union (EU) bloc as punishment for the land reform programme meant to address colonial land imbalances.
During her visit, Ms Douhan will engage Government ministries, opposition voices, civil society organisations, and the broader Zimbabwean community to gauge how the baneful sanctions have constricted Zimbabwe’s development and how they infringe on the enjoyment of human rights.
After her closed-door meeting with the President at State House, the UN special rapporteur, who will only produce a report at the end of her 10-day visit, had a meeting with Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
“We met the special rapporteur as the Ministry of Justice to give them an overview of the effects of sanctions. But we cannot at the moment give details of our deliberations with them as you are aware they are on a fact-finding mission to establish the extent of the effects of sanctions on the ordinary people.
“As a country, we are on a drive to ensure that the sanctions are removed and we presented to them what we have done in terms of our legislation and other measures to ensure that the effect of the sanctions is lessened.
“We cannot give you details because we want the process that the rapporteur is doing to take place first,” said Minister Ziyambi.
He said Zimbabwe remained steadfast in its call for the unconditional removal of the baneful sanctions which have cost the country billions.
“Our document that we are going to give them will clearly indicate the effects of sanctions on our society and that is what we want them to appreciate and understand and be able to capture so that we continue with our drive to ensure the sanctions are removed,” he said.
“If she requests to meet anyone, I think that can be facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Minister Ziyambi.
Since the illegal sanctions were imposed in 2001, Zimbabwe has lost an estimated US$42 billion, losing an estimated US$4,5 billion in donor support annually for more than two decades.
The country lost US$2 billion in IMF, World Bank, and African Development Bank (AfDB) loans which could have helped in developing infrastructure, as well as losing commercial loans amounting to US$18 billion which could be extended to the private sector and other companies.
Zimbabwe experienced a US$21 billion reduction in GDP over the past two decades.
SADC member-states have since declared October 25 as Anti-Sanctions Day as the region exerts pressure on the US and its allies to remove the illegal sanctions that were choking Zimbabwe’s development.
According to her itinerary, the special rapporteur will also have private meetings with UN agencies present in Zimbabwe, as well as international organisations, regional organisations, international financial institutions, the national human rights institution, and representatives of the diplomatic community present in Harare.
She will also meet non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the business community, civil society organisations, and opposition, in particular those whose activities may be affected by unilateral coercive measures, as well as academics with specific expertise in the field.
The private meetings will be organised by the special rapporteur’s office.