Southern Africa: Editorial Comment - SADC Has Spoken, It's Time for Sanctions to Go

Harare (file photo)
26 October 2019
editorial

The message came out clearly yesterday: the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries are not just targeted at a few individuals and firms -- they have, in fact, worked against the entire Southern Africa's regional developmental agenda.

This is the precise reason why Sadc, at its meeting in Tanzania two months ago, decided to stage various activities to register the collective protest against the actions of Western hegemony that have imposed sanctions on a small African country -- with devastating effects.

The United States and its Western allies who imposed the illegal measures must sit up and take heed of the undiluted voice against the sanctions that came out of SADC member states, as they marked the day selected by the regional body to protest against the sanctions.

Southern Africa spoke yesterday, and the communication is very clear that the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the Western countries must be removed now.

That it was a hive of activity in many countries in the SADC region yesterday as they held various activities in solidarity with Zimbabwe against the illegal sanctions shows the extent of the injury caused by the illegal embargo.

These actions followed the declaration of October 25, as the day of solidarity with Zimbabwe in calling for the removal of the illegal sanctions.

The day was declared by the SADC Summit in Tanzania in August.

The US and its allies cannot afford to ignore the voice of all the SADC countries which has disapproved the illegal sanctions.

It will be the highest form of arrogance if these countries choose not to take heed of the collective efforts of the region.

The marking of the solidarity day yesterday showed that the illegal sanctions are no longer about Zimbabwe alone, but have become a cause of concern for the entire region.

In fact, the sanctions on Zimbabwe have since evolved to become an economic and security issue for Southern Africa.

But yesterday's events gave the US and its allies an opportunity to redeem their images in the eyes of the inhabitants of Southern Africa in particular and Africa in general by totally removing the illegal sanctions.

The solidarity by the Southern African countries made Zimbabwe's case much stronger, as it demonstrated that other countries are also sick and tired of the illegal sanctions regime.

If the Western countries do not remove the sanctions after yesterday's protests that reverberated throughout the region, then they are obviously going against headwinds.

To start with, sanctions imposed by the US, not only on Zimbabwe, but on other countries, have been widely criticised, including at such platforms as the United Nations.

And there are many reasons why these illegal embargoes have been discredited, apart from their illegality.

The sanctions are always unilaterally imposed, and have always resulted in the stifling of the developmental agenda of the affected countries.

This has resulted in the suffering of the ordinary people in such countries, who are the biggest causalities of the sanctions.

This has been the case in Zimbabwe, with the effects of the sanctions now having spread to other countries, not only in Southern Africa, but in Africa as a whole.

Using sanctions as tool to achieve foreign policy has since become a discredited method of relating with other countries, and this is the fact that SADC made to the US and its allies yesterday.

We expect the US and its allies to abandon this destructive route that has been disrupting relations among nations.

The policy of isolating other countries through illegal sanctions in the form of stifling aid, trade and loans can only have an effect of worsening poverty, especially in developing countries.

After the SADC solidarity day against sanctions yesterday, we expect the US, which has maintained the tight sanctions through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZIDERA), to look at other options of engaging Zimbabwe.

We hope that instead of maintaining the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, the US responds to the re-engagement efforts being pursued by Harare for the benefit of the ordinary people who have been the most affected.

The European Union, as indicated by President Mnangagwa yesterday, is already doing something about having a re-look at the illegal embargo and has already taken some measures in that direction.

Insisting on instituting arbitrary measures as a way of solving differences with other countries is not the best solution in modern day international relations.

It is a clear violation of the rights of other nations.

In this case, the US should show some respect to countries in Africa by having a re-look at the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

We totally reject the argument being advanced by representatives of the US in Zimbabwe, who want the world to believe that the sanctions are only targeted at individuals and some few entities.

This is a purely propaganda line of argument that has failed to stick.

Surely, the whole of Southern Africa cannot rise up in unison against the illegal sanctions if they are indeed targeted at a few individuals and firms.

We also do not agree with the selective argument being advanced by US ambassador Brian Nichols which suggests that the sanctions have had no effect on the Zimbabwean economy.

Mr Nichols maintains the "targeted sanctions" position, despite that this line no longer has any takers.

In fact, we are surprised by this argument which tends to totally give a blind eye to the existence of ZIDERA and its devastating effects on the Zimbabwean economy.

We await the day when Mr Nichols unpacks ZIDERA and see if it will buttress his argument that the illegal sanctions are only targeted.

It is a fact that the sanctions imposed by the US frightens potential investors who would want to deal with Zimbabwe.

They also instil fear in international monetary authorities from doing business with the country.

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