By Pauline Kamiri

Malawi’s president, Lazarus Chakwera who is also chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for the lifting of all sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

In a statement, Chakwera says “SADC wishes to reaffirm its solidarity with Zimbabwe and to collectively voice its concerns on the disapproval of the prolonged sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe”

He further said that SADC is concerned by the continuation of sanctions on some individuals and entities of Zimbabwe and hereby call for the unconditional and immediate lifting of these sanctions. Chakwera said there is no doubt that the lifting of all sanctions will facilitate socio-economic recovery and enable Zimbabwe to meet its national and regional economic development plans as well as effectively manage its international obligations.

Zimbabwe has been subject to sanctions by European Union and the United States that date back to the reign of former President Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in late 2017 after 38 long years in power. The EU sanctions consist of an arms embargo and targeted asset freezes and travel bans while the US imposed financial restrictions and travel sanctions against selected individuals and entities. 

Following President Mugabe’s ousting, a swift return to democracy and consequent lifting of sanctions has been over the years expected but not reached. Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s successor however, proved to be a far more brutal leader than him since under his watch and rule anti-government protests stemming from an ever-deepening economic crisis were repressed with unprecedented force with  August 2018 and January of 2019, seeing soldiers reportedly kill and rape scores of unarmed civilians participating in peaceful anti-government protests.

In response to this whole crisis the US and the EU extended the sanctions they had previously imposed on the country and vowed to keep all sanctions in place until Mnangagwa’s government allows protests and changes laws that restrict media freedoms. 

The 16 -member regional bloc declared October 25 anti-sanctions day in solidarity with Zimbabwe to show disapproval of these sanctions.

Chakwera said the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with recent devastating cyclones Chalane in December 2020 and Eloise in January 2021 have added socio-economic pressures that continue to ravage the lives and livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe.

He said the trajectory of the global economy is on rebuilding and recovery and to this effect, foreign direct investment (FDI), by virtue of being the largest source of foreign capital, remains a critical catalyst and facilitator of growth and the sanctions increase the perception of Zimbabwe as being in a high risk profile category, thereby diminishing the credibility of investment and investor confidence while exacerbating investment risks. This in turn further diminishes the country’s prospects of obtaining impactful FDI and serves as a deterrent for economic emancipation, growth and stability.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa meanwhile expressed his gratitude to the SADC leaders for standing with Zimbabwe in the quest to have sanctions removed

Chakwera has since said that Zimbabwe and the SADC bloc are committed to engaging in meaningful and constructive dialogue to consolidate the rule of law, democracy, governance and human rights in Zimbabwe. He also called on the consistent and collective global commitment to leave no one behind and in practical furtherance of the spirit of multilateralism.

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