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Ramaphosa's call for lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe laudable

24 Jan 2019 at 11:24hrs | Views
The call by the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, for sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe to be lifted is progressive and worth celebrating.

Ramaphosa joins Rwandan President Paul Kagame and foreign based business magnate, Strive Masiyiwa, in calling the international community to be supportive of Zimbabwe's economic reform agenda.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 73rd Session last year (2018), President Kagame stated that the next stages on Zimbabwe's path of progress warranted steady encouragement from the international community and this can only be achieved if the sanctions are removed.

On his part, Masiyiwa recently implored relevant communities to lift sanctions imposed on the country highlighting that President Mnangagwa was sincere in his agenda to turn around the country's economy.

In his interview with the BBC on the side-lines of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) meeting in Geneva, President Ramaphosa, who is also the sitting SADC Chair, said the challenges facing Zimbabwe due to the sanctions regime were of concern, not only to South Africa, but the entire region.  

In his appeal, he stated that, "the world that has imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe would be even more helpful if those sanctions were to be lifted".

He added that the sanctions against the country were no longer necessary because the country had embarked on a path of democracy and real recovery.

For close to two decades, Zimbabwe has endured economic sanctions from a number of European countries including, the United States (US) and the European Union.

Certainly, remarks by President Ramaphosa are testimony of the growing unity among African leaders in their quest to overcome the challenges facing their nations.

On the other hand, it can be noted that the debate and discourse on Zimbabwe in the region and across the world is changing and taking a positive twist at the back of an aggressive engagement and re-engagement drive by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.   
It is common knowledge that Zimbabwe is South Africa's major trade trading partner and no doubt, challenges in the country's economy have an adverse bearing on its economy too.

It may be recalled that during the first half of 2018, the US extended the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment (ZIDERA) Act which forbids Zimbabwe to trade with and access loan facilities to pay off the national debt from the US and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs).

The Act directs US Executive Directors of IFIs to oppose the vote against any extension by respective institutions of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States of America or any International Financial Institution.

This piece of legislation has been detrimental to the operations of the manufacturing and processing industry who could no longer access finances to purchase and service requisite equipment and raw materials from some countries abroad.

Although, ZIDERA was said to be targeted, it eventually contributed to the crippling of the country's economy which brought untold suffering among Zimbabweans.

Around late 2018, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Harrington, threatened that the US would announce more sanctions on Zimbabwean if Government did not drop charges against opposition principal, Tendai Biti, who stands accused of inciting post-electoral violence that led to the death of six people on 1 August 2018 in Harare.

This goes to show that some of the sanctions are not justified, but driven by political motives.

Lifting of sanctions imposed on the country would bring a lot of relief to most of the challenges facing the country, including fuel shortages, commodities price hikes, shortages of foreign currency and different supplies necessary to drive the economy.

Naturally, it would also ease the political tension that have seen opposition elements take to the streets to protest alleged high cost of living in the country resulting in casualties in some cases.  

Other countries that trade with Zimbabwe are also bound to benefit if the sanctions are removed. Most likely there would be remarkable regional economic growth.

Source - Ashley Kondo
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