Joseph Madzimure and Zvamaida Murwira
IT was a day to remember for Zimbabwe yesterday as it received overwhelming support from SADC and African Union (AU) member states, who sent representatives to stand solidly behind Harare as citizens protested against illegal sanctions imposed by the West. The National Sports Stadium in Harare, which hosted the main anti-sanctions event, was a hive of activity as ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe came in droves to denounce the illegal sanctions imposed by the United States (US) and the European Union (EU).
One by one, the envoys called for the immediate and unconditional lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
SADC Chairperson and Tanzanian President Dr John Magufuli’s solidarity message was read by Tanzania’s Charge de Affairs Brigadier Perez Alfonso, while Mozambican Ambassador to Zimbabwe,Mr Fancisco Cigarro, delivered a message on behalf diplomats from the SADC bloc.
The Pan-African Parliament also threw its weight behind Zimbabwe in a message read by its vice president Chief Fortune Charumbira.
The event started in the morning with people converging at Robert Mugabe Square, where people braved the scorching heat and walked along Samora Machel to the National Sports Stadium, venue of the major event.
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa led the march from Robert Mugabe Square.
Inside the stadium, the event started with solidarity messages from SADC ambassadors, opposition political parties, churches, representatives from people living with disabilities, and war veterans, among others.
Speaking on behalf of SADC ambassadors, Mr Cigarro said member states were concerned with the adverse effects of sanctions on the general populace.
“This is in resonance to the 39th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the SADC, which was held in Tanzania, in August this year, which declared the 25th October as the date on which SADC member states should collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until they are lifted.
“As the summit correctly noted, the adverse impact on the economy of Zimbabwe and the region at large, of prolonged economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, has required this unified call for the immediate removal of all forms of sanctions to facilitate the socio-economic recovery in the country,” he said.
Ambassador Cigarro said the sanctions were a total infringement of the economic rights of Zimbabweans.
“Far from the claim that the sanctions are ring-fenced and targeted on a few individuals, the reality on the ground is that the tight grip of the declared and undeclared sanctions is being felt throughout the whole economy. These punitive measures, which have been in place for nearly two decades, have effectively hampered the Government’s efforts to implement its development agenda.
“The sanctions generally have resulted in visibly devastating effects on the whole economy and living standards of the people of Zimbabwe.
“We have witnessed at first hand, the suffering that the ordinary people of Zimbabwe are going through as a result of the imposition of sanctions on the country.
“The entire SADC region stands in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe in their suffering. The sanctions have had adverse spill-over effects on the entire SADC region.”
He said SADC will stand firm against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
“As SADC countries, we have always supported one another since the struggle for independence and this spirit must prevail.
“Therefore, as SADC countries we call for the immediate removal of all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe,” said Ambassador Cigarro.
In an interview, South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mphakhama Mbete said the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe must be lifted with immediate effect.
“The anti-sanctions crusade is not a Zimbabwean (initiative), but it is a regional initiative. If the USA and her Western allies fail to remove the sanctions now, the SADC Heads of State will take action until the sanctions are lifted. This is just the first step.
“What I am aware of is that member states will definitely convene a meeting to map the way forward,” said Ambassador Mbete.
Speaking on behalf Dr Magufuli, who is the Sadc chair, Tanzanian’s Charge de Affairs Brigadier General Perez Alfonse said sanctions must be lifted.
“As Tanzania, led by President Magufuli, we are calling for the immediate lifting of sanctions to allow Zimbabwe to implement its development agenda. We will continue supporting Zimbabwe in its quest for economic recovery.
“We commend SADC which brought about this day, calling for the region to speak with one voice. We are in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
The SADC Summit of August 2019 in Tanzania declared October 25 as the day on which SADC member states collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions on Zimbabwe through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted.