The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has reiterated its call for Western countries to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, saying the embargo was limiting private sector investment and hindering the country's reform agenda.
The call was made by Sadc executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax when she met the US Charge d 'Affairs in Botswana, Ms Kali Jones, on Monday.
The call, which comes a few days after Sadc Chairman and Namibian President Hage Geingob threw the region's weight behind President Mnangagwa's administration, flies in the face of MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa, who is reportedly out of the country on a so-called diplomatic offensive to "sensitise the continent on the situation in Zimbabwe."
The opposition leader and his adjuncts in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector have been, without success, calling for the vilification and isolation of Zimbabwe by Sadc, the African Union (AU) and entire global community for alleged human rights violations.
Dr Tax said the illegal embargo was inhibiting Zimbabwe from accessing financial assistance from multilateral institutions.
"Great meeting with the USA," she posted on her Twitter handle.
"Reiterated Sadc call to the international community to lift economic sanctions to Zimbabwe, which deny Zimbabwe access to finance from Multilateral & Private Institutions, and affect the country's development."
Details of the meeting were also outlined on the Sadc website.
It says: "H.E. Dr Tax reiterated Sadc's call for the international community to lift socio-economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, which she said continue to deny Zimbabwe access to finance from Multilateral Financial Institutions and Private Financed Institutions and Capital Markets to support the country's development agenda. On this point, H.E. Dr Tax added that the economic sanctions have led to limited private sector investment into the country.
"The Sadc Executive Secretary was accompanied by the Sadc Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs, Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, Mr Habib Kambanga, Head of Regional Early Warning Centre (REWC), Representing the Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs. The Charge d' Affairs was accompanied by Ms Elizabeth O'Rourke, Political Officer at the US Embassy in Botswana."
Recently, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for the removal of the sanctions against Harare for economic development to take place.
In a statement last week, SADC Chairperson and Namibian President Hage Geingob said: "The Consultative Meeting of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) heads of State and Government, held on 9 February 2019, received a briefing from His Excellency, Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, on the current political and socio-economic developments in the country.
"The SADC Heads of State and Government noticed that since coming to power, the new Government of Zimbabwe has continued with concerted efforts to address socio-economic challenges and transform the economy, particularly through the Zimbabwe Transitional Stabilisation Programme (2018-2020), and to consolidate unity and peace in the country."
President Geingob said SADC was aware of the hidden hand trying to derail Zimbabwe's economic reform agenda.
"This notwithstanding, some internal groups, in particular NGOs supported by external forces, have continued with efforts to destabilise the country," he said.
"The SADC Heads of State and Government also noted that in an effort to address the economic challenges in the country, the Government recently increased fuel prices. Unfortunately, violent demonstrators rode on the back of increases in fuel prices, to destruction of property and loss of life.
"SADC condemns in the strongest of terms the violence that ensued, and expresses sympathy with affected families for the loss of their loved ones and their properties."
Sanctions have been singled out as the largest single impediment to Zimbabwe's economic stabilisation plans and the regional bloc joined the increasing number of businesspeople, religious leaders and organisations calling for their immediate removal.
"The SADC Heads of State and Government further noted that the Government efforts to transform the economy and bring about prosperity to the people of Zimbabwe are negatively affected by the illegal sanctions that were imposed on the country since the early 2000s," said President Geingob.
"SADC expresses its solidarity with the Government and the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and calls upon the international community to unconditionally lift all sanctions imposed on the country."