Swakopmund — The 46th plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum has unanimously adopted a motion calling for the immediate and unconditional lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States of America in the European Union.
Angolan parliamentarian Josefina Perpétua Pitra Diakité moved the motion on Sunday, with Malawi seconding.
Diakité argued that the sanctions, which have been in place for two decades were thwarting the economic development of Zimbabwe and hurting other SADC member states.
Additionally, she said the sanctions were undermining the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
They were negatively impacting "people's livelihoods, economic development and access to health, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable population, including young girls, women, children, the disabled and the elderly."
She added: "The economic sanctions are a violation of the human, economic and social rights of the people of Zimbabwe and have a negative impact on the government's efforts to leverage the economy and boost the living standards of the Zimbabwean people."
Diakité said the sanctions were adversely affecting the SADC region's growth and sustainable development objectives and would hamstring economic and regional integration efforts "as they undermine commercial, economic and financial relations between member states."
She urged the SADC PF and national parliaments to organise activities and platforms for governments, parliaments, civil society and the private sector to rally support and raise solidarity for the removal of the sanctions.
To achieve this, she suggested a regional strategy to raise awareness to popularise the positions of SADC and the African Union (AU).
In seconding the motion, Malawi MP Dennis Namachekecha, said the sanctions were hurting the entire SADC region and should be removed given that the new political dispensation in Zimbabwe under President Emmerson Mnangagwa had opened a new chapter and was ready to engage with the rest of the world.
Namachekecha said it was regrettable that those who imposed the sanctions on Zimbabwe where ignoring Zimbabwe's stated diplomatic engagements.
"The sanctions are undermining Zimbabwe's efforts to attract investment and the country's ability to realize its national, regional and international development is also curtailed."
He said the proposed lifting of sanctions and the regional and continental solidarity can help Zimbabwe regain her regional breadbasket status.
"We are each other's keeper and we can not ignore the pain that the people of Zimbabwe are enduring. This motion requires that we unite just as we united against colonialism and the apartheid regime of South Africa to speak with one voice against the continued unjustified sanctions," he said.
He said all Africans have a "brotherly and sisterly obligation" to demand the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe because an injury to one is an injury to all.
"Today it is Zimbabwe. Tomorrow it can be any member of SADC," he said.
The motion generated vigorous and emotional debate.
The Speaker of the National Assembly of Seychelles, Nicholas Prea, said: "In this day and age there is no place for such sanctions against any country, let alone Zimbabwe. We should unite to condemn this and rally behind our fellow member state to call for the lifting of such sanctions that are inhuman."
Prea said the sanctions had ripple effects and Zimbabwe's neighbours were suffering.
Senator Tambudzani Mohadi said Zimbabweans could neither enjoy peace and prosperity nor achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals with illegal sanctions in place.
"Sanctions are undermining the anticipated goals of Zimbabwe thereby retarding development of the region. It has been very unreasonable for the west to respond to an effort to redress an ill of the past - the land - by escalating it into a full-scale war on the people of Zimbabwe."
Mohadi dismissed claims that the sanctions were mere restrictions targeting a few people in government. The plain fact of the matter, she said, was that they negatively impacted ordinary men, women, boys and girls.
"These illegal sanctions have adversely affected our rural women children as well as those amongst us who are differently abled. Economic growth has been stunted as balance of payments support has completely dried up. Our children are dying due to lack of medicine. Women are dying during childbirth. Men are burdened with family support while their pockets are dry."
Mohadi said although Zimbabwe was endowed with various rich mineral resources, ordinary citizens were unable to benefit meaningfully from these resources, as they could not be traded openly on the world market.
She added: "Our banks cannot access credit lines to support the agricultural sector. We cannot retool our industries because of lack of support from traditional financial corporations."
The Speaker of the Parliament of South Africa Thandi Modise said her country fully supports the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
"We do so because we understand that without South Africa standing up with other neighbours, the economic progress of the region will be retarded. The issues of child mortality and hunger would continue to besiege the region. This is not Zimbabwe's problem. This is a regional problem," she said.
She pledged South Africa's unwavering support and solidarity.
"We stand behind you. We call for the removal of these sanctions. We want Zimbabwe to be able to enjoy her mineral wealth, go back to be the food basket of our region and to walk tall amongst the countries of Africa," she said.
United Republic of Tanzania lawmaker Ally Saleh said he was pleased to note that the issue of sanctions against the Zimbabwe was being taken seriously.
"Tanzania's position is very well known. We say enough is enough. Two decades are enough for the sanctions to be lifted because they are affecting all the people and all the sectors. Zimbabweans should be free to govern themselves and to decide with whom they want to corporate. The world must know this and support us on this. The sanctions must be lifted without any conditionalities."
Botswana's MP Polson Majaga said the sanctions must be lifted because they had reduced some Zimbabweans into economic refugees in neighbouring countries.
Dought Ndiweni, a Member of Parliament from Zimbabwe, concurred.
"Now other countries have to budget for Zimbabweans coming to their countries because of these economic sanctions. Our pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has been crippled. We are very capable people. We can look after ourselves if these sanctions are lifted," he said.
Professor Nkandu Luo from Zambia said her country empathises with Zimbabwe, having once lived under sanctions.
"We used to go to Zimbabwe to buy bread or sugar. That is what sanctions do to a country. It is a pity that it is taken so long to move this motion. People of Zimbabwe have been suffering for a long time," she said.
She said the sanctions must be lifted because they had far reaching public health implications for Zimbabwe and her neighbours.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Angola Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos said the sanctions were illegal. He said Zimbabweans must be allowed to take the lead in resolving their internal problems.
Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda said the sanctions were in violation of international law.
"Any sanctions that have to be passed against any country which is a member of the United Nations must be sanctioned by the United Nations. This was not done in the case of Zimbabwe."
He explained that Zimbabwe was put under sanctions because of the land question.
The speaker explained that when the struggle for independence started it, was driven by a desire to give back land to the people. He said after waiting for 10 years under a willing-buyer willing-seller arrangement, Zimbabweans decided to reclaim their land.
He said Zimbabwe would continue to engage the west to clarify her position on the land issue.
By Moses Magadza