Harare - An injury to one is an injury all.
This is the logic behind the declaration by SADC Heads of State and Government of October 25 Anti-Sanctions Day in solidarity with Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has been under illegal sanctions by the United States and European Union for close to 20 years now.
The embargo was imposed after Harare embarked on a land reform programme that reallocated farms held by 6,000 whites to more than 300,000 black families.
The sanctions block lines of credit to Zimbabwe, and have even resulted in financial institutions like Standard Chartered and Barclays bank have been fined by the US government for dealing with Zimbabwean companies.
In their 2019 resolution on Anti-Sanctions Day, SADC leaders said, “Summit noted the adverse impact on the economy of Zimbabwe and the region at large of prolonged economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe, and called for the immediate lifting of sanctions to facilitate socio-economic recovery in the country.”
The sanctions have cost Zimbabwe at least US$42 billion according to a study by the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry, and the economic downturn has triggered migration of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries.
The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ministry says Zimbabwe lost bilateral support estimated at US$4,5 billion annually since 2001, a total of US$12 billion in loans from the IMF, the World Bank and African Development Bank, as well as commercial loans worth US$18 billion on account of the sanctions.
As a result, the country’s GDP has shrunk by US$21 billion.
The Zimbabwe government has lined up various activities across the country on October 25 to enable citizens to voice their opposition to the sanctions that were imposed outside of the United Nations system.
Diplomats from SADC countries accredited to Zimbabwe said they were also preparing activities to highlight the effect of sanctions on the region.
South Africa’s chief diplomat to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Mphakama Mbete, said his government stood in solidarity with Zimbabwe.
“My government and other SADC member states will take part in the commemorations of the Anti-Sanctions Day scheduled for October 25. All SADC members’ states are rallying behind Zimbabwe in the fight against the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, which is affecting the general populace,” he said.
Malawi’s top diplomat in the country, Ambassador Annie Yauka Kumwenda, said the sanctions on Zimbabwe were affecting the whole SADC region and called for their unconditional removal.
“The imposed sanctions on the innocent people of Zimbabwe have done more damage, more especially where its intended purpose is not known. Malawi stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe, SADC and all well-wishers in calling an end to the sanctions. The sanctions are actually impinging on human rights.
“Children are born and raised in a sanction environment. Access to quality life like education, health, food, shelter is compromised, all because of the sanctions. Please lift the sanctions for the well-being of children who know nothing about sanctions apart from bearing their consequences,” she said.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said the bloc was directly engaging Western capitals to articulate the urgency of lifting the embargo.
“SADC is engaging the nations that have imposed sanctions, in particular the United States of America and the European Union (EU), to put the lives of the Zimbabwean people first.
“This year, SADC will intensify engagements with the countries that have imposed the sanctions, and urge them to lift the measures. SADC firmly believes in the power of dialogue, which remains an integral component of SADC’s efforts to call for the removal of sanctions.”