Harare, (New Ziana) –Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki said on Monday the Southern African Development Community must now take up the matter of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe with the Donald Trump administration as part of the plan to resolve the impasse.
Mbeki, who paid a courtesy call on President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House, said it was imperative the bloc continues to stand by Zimbabwe in its times of need.
“I am very glad with what the President is doing to respond to the challenges and I think it’s very important that the region should come behind the President and the country because the challenges of Zimbabwe are our challenges,” Mbeki told reporters after closed door talks that last over an hour.
With Sadc having pronounced its position on sanctions that Washington imposed on Harare, Mbeki said it was time to escalate the matter.
Zimbabwe has been under US sanctions for nearly two decades, an embargo that is blamed for fueling the country’s economic meltdown through blocking potential investment and access to international financial support.
The embargo paints Zimbabwe as a rogue state that other nations and investors must not deal with.
SADC has repeatedly called for the lifting of the embargo and declared October 25 this year an anti-Zimbabwe sanctions day in which individual member countries held different activities to show their displeasure at the embargo.
“(After pronouncing its position on the matter) It is important that the region should then follow up on an important matter like that with countries like the United States so that we act on this issue,” Mbeki said.
The Zimbabwe government estimates the sanctions to have cost the economy close to US$100 billion in potential revenue flows over the years.
Through its engagement and re-engagement agenda, President Mnangagwa’s government is trying to build bridges that could lead to the lifting of the sanctions imposed over political differences to do with the land reform programme.
The agrarian reforms saw the government compulsorily acquiring vast tracts of prime agricultural land owned by a small number of white farmers and redistributing it to over 300 000 black families in a bid to address a colonial legacy.
The US government remains adamant that the sanctions on the country are justified.
President Mnangagwa lauded Mbeki’s visit as a show of deep ties between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“Zimbabwe and South Africa are very close friends,” he said, jokingly adding that Mbeki was the only living former South African President who was yet to visit him since taking over from the late former President Robert Mugabe over two years ago.
Officials said Mbeki was expected to meet with local opposition leaders and former First Lady, Grace Mugabe to pay his condolences following the passing on of former President Mugabe.