New York, (New Ziana) – Hundreds of people, mostly non-Zimbabweans, marched in New York on Saturday calling on the United States and the European Union (EU) to lift sanctions imposed on the country almost two decades ago.
The sanctions were slapped on Zimbabwe to force the country to reverse its land reforms under which the government compulsorily acquired excess farmland from white farmers to resettle landless blacks.
These include barring Zimbabwe from accessing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank financial support, and a variety of trade restrictions which the country estimates had cost it almost US$100 billion in twenty years.
Waving placards demanding the removal of the sanctions, the matchers – led by the December 12 Movement activist group, said not only had the sanctions conscricted Zimbabwe’s development, they were killing innocent people in the country.
“Sanctions in Zimbabwe kill, they destroy all means to develop the country,” Viola Palmer, December 12 Movement leader, said.
“The sanctions are killing the people of Zimbabwe. Sanctions are a form of war,” she added.
The calls for the lifting of the sanctions have been growing louder and wider lately, with more and more countries and organisations pressing the US and the EU to end the embargo.
This is view of deep reforms President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has undertaken since taking office in 2017, and it’s overtures to friends and foes alike to open a new page in relations.
In imposing the sanctions, both the US and EU used the smokescreen of alleged human rights abuses and undemocratic electoral laws, concerns the new administration has gone out of its way to address.
Yet, inspite of the government’s efforts, the West has stubbornly refused to lift the sanctions.
“They put sanctions on the banks. They cannot get financing to develop the country,” Palmer said.
The refusal to ease the sanctions, let alone lift them, in response to the new administration’s reforms is prompting more and more countries and organisations to fight in Zimbabwe’s corner on the issue.
Last month, the issue dominated the summit of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), with the regional group resolving to make lobbying for the lifting of the embargo a collective effort.
It dedicated October 25 a day of regional solidarity with Zimbabwe over the issue, in which all member states are expected to hold activities drawing global attention to the sanctions’ negative impact.
At the United Nations General Assembly here next week, Egypt – which holds the rotating chairmanship of the African Union – is expected to similarly speak out against the sanctions, and call for their lifting.
Tanzania, the current SADC chair, is also expected to draw the world’s attention here to the devastating impact of the embargo, not only on Zimbabwe but the region as a whole.
And so is President Mnangagwa when he takes to the podium at the United Nations General Assembly next week.