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Sadc takes anti-sanctions fight to another level

19 Aug 2019 at 07:31hrs | Views
President Mnangagwa attended the 39th Ordinary Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government which ended in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania yesterday. This was the second time that he has attended the Sadc Summit as President.

The summit was a resounding success for Zimbabwe in many ways; arguably the most successful in recent times.

President Mnangagwa took over the chairmanship of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation — also known as Organ Troika — from his counterpart from the sister republic of Zambia, President Edgar Lungu. This followed the country's election to take over the very influential position last year.  

The Organ Troika's role is to guarantee peace in the 16-member regional bloc.

As chairman, President Mnangagwa would lead the region's response to existing security challenges in a number of countries as well as those that might arise over the next 12 months.

Lesotho, where there has been substantial instability in recent years is one of the flashpoints that the President, as chairman of the Organ Troika, would have to attend to. Malawi where President Peter Mutharika won a disputed election recently is yet another.

Given that elections frequently have security implications in nations and in the region, President Mnangagwa and two fellow members of the Troika, would have to keep an eye on polls scheduled for Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique in the next few months.   

The President's assumption of the chairmanship of such an influential organ of the regional body is therefore a high point arising from the just-ended Sadc Summit.   

Many leaders in the region thought that the peaceful and democratic elections held in our country in July last year would encourage Europe and America to lift their ruinous, illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The elections were, in our view and in the view of a majority of observers, the most transparent and credible the country has ever had since Independence in 1980. Basically every country or organisation that was keen to observe the elections was free to do so.

Additionally, all political parties in the country were very free to campaign with no fear of violence.

This was important given the history of political violence in our country.   Largely because the electoral field was even, a record number of political parties contested.  Because of the same reason, a record number of people came out to exercise their rights to vote in the election.

In the end, President Mnangagwa retained the Presidency, beating a field of some 22 challengers. MDC Alliance leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa emerged second with more than 400 000 votes less than President Mnangagwa's. Also, Zanu-PF clinched the coveted two thirds majority in Parliament.

The party won in most wards across the country too. The elections were endorsed as free, fair, democratic and representative of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

Mr Chamisa rejected the result and approached the Constitutional Court. With zero evidence to prove he had won the presidential election and that President Mnangagwa hadn't, the top court dismissed his challenge and declared President Mnangagwa elected as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had declared a few weeks earlier. With the elections having run their full course, Sadc expected Europe and America to do the needful, but they have maintained their sanctions.   

Sadc leaders, led by the incoming chair, President John Magufuli of Tanzania, were strong in their condemnation of the measures over the weekend and in their call to have them removed.   

"It would certainly be remiss of me to end my speech without saying anything on Zimbabwe," he said in his acceptance speech on Saturday.

"As we are all aware, this brotherly and sisterly country has been on sanctions for a long time. These sanctions have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their Government but our entire region. It is like a human body: when you chop one of its parts, it affects the whole body. Therefore, I would like to seize this opportunity to urge the international community to lift up sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe. This brotherly country, after all, has now opened a new chapter and it is ready to engage with the rest of the world. It is, therefore, I believe, in the interest of all parties concerned to see these sanctions removed. In this respect, I wish also to urge all Sadc member states to continue to speak with one voice on the issue of Zimbabwe."

Earlier in the week, the new chair of the Sadc Council of Ministers, Mr Palamagamba Kabudi - who is also Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation — had told the media ahead of the regional indaba that a resolution calling for the removal of sanctions was part of 107 draft resolutions that were tabled at the summit.

Successive Sadc summits have taken similar decisions in the past but this time, the leaders decided to elevate their anti-sanctions fight to a new level.   

They decided to task the Sadc secretariat to write to the African Union to take the message to the United Nations that the sanctions are not only disastrous to the economy and livelihoods of Zimbabweans but also that they are no longer necessary given the credible elections last year and the wide ranging reforms that President Mnangagwa's Government is putting in place. We take the summit's decision to escalate the anti-sanctions fight to the UN as a big development which demonstrates Southern Africa's full support for Zimbabwe.   

If the foregoing decision was big for our country, the summit's decision to set aside a day to draw global attention on the illegal Western sanctions was enormous.

According to the communiqué read by Sadc executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax yesterday, Sadc leaders resolved to reserve October 25, 2019 as a day when the bloc would conduct activities to jointly call for the "immediate" lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

This is an eloquent message coming from Southern Africa; a message denouncing sanctions against Zimbabwe and calling for their immediate lifting. Europe and America must listen.

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