Harare (New Ziana) – The decision by Southern African leaders to aggressively campaign for the removal of illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe vindicates the government’s long held position that the sanctions were not targeted but were in fact to blame for the economic challenges the country is facing, a Cabinet Minister said on Tuesday.
The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 to force the government to abandon its land reforms, under which it compulsorily acquired excess white-owned farmland to resettle landless blacks, mainly peasants.
The reforms were meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances which favoured minority whites, and economically empower the majority blacks.
At its Summit in August this year in Tanzania, SADC resolved to collectively assist Zimbabwe, one of its founding member countries, in campaigning for the sanctions to be removed.
The regional bloc dedicated the 25th of October as a day to collectively call for lifting of the embargo, and assigned member states to raise the issue at international fora such as the recently held United Nations General Assembly.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the whole Sadc region was also feeling the effects of the economic sanctions hence the decision for a region wide anti-sanctions campaign.
Because of sanctions, Zimbabwe finds it difficult to secure adequate foreign currency to pay for services rendered by its neighbours such as electricity imports.
The sanctions have also disrupted trade and the implementation of bilateral agreements with other regional States.
“The whole world is now seeing that it is propaganda, and the propaganda does not hold water anymore and this is why Sadc Heads of State took it upon themselves to say that we need to designate a day where all Sadc will cry out and say please remove this albatross which is surrounding Zimbabwe,” she said.
“What Sadc wants is to move as a bloc and they realise that as long as there are sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe we cannot move together as a bloc and this is why all progressive countries and Sadc have taken it upon themselves (to call for the removal of sanctions).”
Mutsvangwa said Zimbabweans would hold protest marches across the country on October 25, and urged every citizen to join in the effort.
“If the whole Sadc region has come on board what is stopping us the people who are taking the brunt of these economic sanctions to speak with one voice?” she asked.
“We call upon Zimbabweans from all walks of life to join hands and call for the removal of these illegal sanctions which have and continue to cause untold suffering to the rank and file.”
She said activities on the day will also include a musical gala while petitions will also be handed to Western embassies whose countries have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The sanctions, which include trade restrictions and withdrawal of bilateral and multilateral financial support, are estimated to have cost Zimbabwe about US$100 billion over the past two decades.