25 OCTOBER 2020

It has been one year since the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) declared 25th October as the day for SADC to campaign as a region for the unconditional removal of sanctions imposed on the Republic of Zimbabwe. While significant progress has been made since the decision was made in 2019, Zimbabwe remains under sanctions that significantly undermine the country’s capacity to respond to socio-economic challenges that include three successive droughts; recovery from the effects of Tropical Cyclone Idai; poor access to affordable lines of credit on the global market; and servicing of her debt obligations. The prevailing COVID-19 pandemic has further placed serious constraints on the Government of Zimbabwe’s ability to fund programmes, as well as investments in key economic sectors. SADC, therefore, reiterates the call for these sanctions to be unconditionally lifted for Zimbabwe to improve the livelihoods of her citizens, and develop unhindered.

We are encouraged that SADC’s call has received some attention, and as such we applaud the recent call by the United Nations Secretary General, Dr. Antonio Guterres, and the UN Human Rights Commission, for the removal of unilateral coercive measures, as they have significant negative impacts on access to COVID-19 prevention measures and post recovery efforts. We welcome the pertinent conclusions and recommendations of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, which also found out that countries targeted by unilateral sanctions are constrained in their quest to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are acutely aware that the continuation of sanctions not only impacts negatively on socio-economic progress in Zimbabwe, but also on the attainment of the SADC Vision 2050, the African Union Agenda 2063 and ultimately the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As SADC, we fully support the very constructive re-engagement dialogue between the Republic of Zimbabwe and her global partners, including those that have maintained sanctions on Zimbabwe. We call on all progressive forces to lend diplomatic, political and moral support to the re-engagement efforts.

As the world grapples with containing the COVID-19 pandemic, and mobilizing resources aimed at building resilient economies, it is important to observe the collective resolve that has been built to ensure that everybody is on board, in line with the UN Member States’ pledge to ensure no one is left behind.  For SADC as a region, the call for the unconditional removal of sanctions assumes even greater importance.  It is not just a solidarity call in support of Zimbabwe, but also a clarion call for justice, fairness and full enjoyment of human rights. The sanctions are no longer relevant, and are detrimental to the socio-economic development and self-determination of Zimbabweans.

On a very encouraging and positive note, SADC notes with satisfaction the resolve of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and of His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to continue implementing reforms aimed at stabilising the economy and the financial sector. Furthermore, we continue to witness political and legislative reforms that have seen, among others, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA); Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA); and the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act being repealed, and efforts to align legislation with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The recently concluded landmark Global Compensation Deed Agreement, signed between the Government of Zimbabwe and former farm-owners, is evidence of the Government’s commitment to address the contentious issues emanating from the land reform programme, which was introduced to redress historical land inequalities that existed along racial and class lines. Such developments are evidence that Zimbabwe is on a positive trajectory, and the lifting of sanctions will accelerate the realisation of positive milestones.

As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary since the establishment of our community of nations, the United Nations, let us also draw inspiration from our Charter and this year’s theme, “The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need”, and remain faithful to our global commitment to leave no one behind. Sanctions without UN approval are a violation of our Charter and run against the spirit of multilateralism.  As SADC, we reaffirm the urgency of the removal of all sanctions imposed on the Republic of Zimbabwe. The sanctions must be removed now for the good of the region and the world.