Zimbabwe will next week use the opening of the 75th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), that will be held virtually due to Covid-19, to echo its call for the unconditional removal of restrictive measures imposed against it among other states. Contrary to the norm where leaders meet in New York yearly, the opening session will be held from September 22 to 26 on a virtual platform. President Mnangagwa will participate in the meetings via pre-recorded statements. Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme of 2000 led the United States to impose illegal and unjustified sanctions under its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001 along with an Executive Order 13288 of March 2003 that has been renewed yearly. The European Union also introduced its own sanctions in February 2002, but lifted most of its embargoes in 2014. The prohibitive and other tough measures imposed on Zimbabwe by the West 20 years ago have damaged the economy and slowed down development in the Southern African state. Zidera in particular effectively blocks Zimbabwe’s access to international finance and credit markets using the US influence in global institutions to bar normal financing. Under international law, some prohibitions need to be authorised or imposed by the UN Security Council, which was never done in the case of Zimbabwe. Because of Zimbabwe’s failure and limitations to honour its financial obligations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) since 1999, the Bretton Woods Institutions suspended balance of payment support and technical assistance. Consequently, the country’s external payment arrears continually increased from US$109 million in 1999 to US$5.4 billion in 2017. The arrears have been rising, now at more than 70 percent of total public and publicly guaranteed external debt. Zimbabwe has lost over US$42 billion in revenue over the past 18 years because of the sanctions. It is believed that Zimbabwe lost bilateral donor support estimated at US$4.5 billion annually since 2001, US$12 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and African Development Bank, commercial loans of US$18 billion and a GDP reduction of US$21 billion.
SADC is behind Zimbabwe in calling for the unconditional removal of the twenty year old measures calling for the immediate lifting of the sanctions to facilitate socio-economic recovery in the country, declaring October 25 as the date on which member states can collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted. The UN is expected to assert its authority and commit to its principles by reining in countries that imposed the sanctions illegal in the sense the UN rejected them through a veto by two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia in 2009. The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou said
the UN General Assembly provides an opportunity to call for the immediate removal of the sanctions, imposed in defiance of international treaties and law. He said as Zimbabwe joins other countries in commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, the country would reaffirm its commitment to promoting the meaningful empowerment of women and girls as a cross-cutting issue.
Ambassador Manzou said as a country endowed with abundant flora and fauna, Zimbabwe would urge the international community to work in partnership to preserve biodiversity in light of the increased exhaustion of vital habitats and the growing number of species that were under threat as a consequence. The commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations will run under the theme: “The future we want, the United Nations we need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News