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Southern Africa: SADC Stands with Zim
The Herald – Zimbabwe
The message came out clearly yesterday: the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries are not just targeted at a few individuals and firms — they have, in fact, worked against the entire Southern Africa’s regional developmental agenda.
This is the precise reason why Sadc, at its meeting in Tanzania two months ago, decided to stage various activities to register the collective protest against the actions of Western hegemony that have imposed sanctions on a small African country — with devastating effects.
The United States and its Western allies who imposed the illegal measures must sit up and take heed of the undiluted voice against the sanctions that came out of SADC member states, as they marked the day selected by the regional body to protest against the sanctions.
Southern Africa spoke yesterday, and the communication is very clear that the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the Western countries must be removed now.
That it was a hive of activity in many countries in the SADC region yesterday as they held various activities in solidarity with Zimbabwe against the illegal sanctions shows the extent of the injury caused by the illegal embargo.
These actions followed the declaration of October 25, as the day of solidarity with Zimbabwe in calling for the removal of the illegal sanctions.
The day was declared by the SADC Summit in Tanzania in August.
The US and its allies cannot afford to ignore the voice of all the SADC countries which has disapproved the illegal sanctions.
It will be the highest form of arrogance if these countries choose not to take heed of the collective efforts of the region.
The marking of the solidarity day yesterday showed that the illegal sanctions are no longer about Zimbabwe alone, but have become a cause of concern for the entire region.
In fact, the sanctions on Zimbabwe have since evolved to become an economic and security issue for Southern Africa.
But yesterday’s events gave the US and its allies an opportunity to redeem their images in the eyes of the inhabitants of Southern Africa in particular and Africa in general by totally removing the illegal sanctions.
The solidarity by the Southern African countries made Zimbabwe’s case much stronger, as it demonstrated that other countries are also sick and tired of the illegal sanctions regime.
If the Western countries do not remove the sanctions after yesterday’s protests that reverberated throughout the region, then they are obviously going against headwinds.
To start with, sanctions imposed by the US, not only on Zimbabwe, but on other countries, have been widely criticised, including at such platforms as the United Nations.
And there are many reasons why these illegal embargoes have been discredited, apart from their illegality.
The sanctions are always unilaterally imposed, and have always resulted in the stifling of the developmental agenda of the affected countries.
This has resulted in the suffering of the ordinary people in such countries, who are the biggest causalities of the sanctions.
This has been the case in Zimbabwe, with the effects of the sanctions now having spread to other countries, not only in Southern Africa, but in Africa as a whole.
Using sanctions as tool to achieve foreign policy has since become a discredited method of relating with other countries, and this is the fact that SADC made to the US and its allies yesterday.
We expect the US and its allies to abandon this destructive route that has been disrupting relations among nations.
The policy of isolating other countries through illegal sanctions in the form of stifling aid, trade and loans can only have an effect of worsening poverty, especially in developing countries.
After the SADC solidarity day against sanctions yesterday, we expect the US, which has maintained the tight sanctions through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZIDERA), to look at other options of engaging Zimbabwe.
We hope that instead of maintaining the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, the US responds to the re-engagement efforts being pursued by Harare for the benefit of the ordinary people who have been the most affected.
The European Union, as indicated by President Mnangagwa yesterday, is already doing something about having a re-look at the illegal embargo and has already taken some measures in that direction.
Insisting on instituting arbitrary measures as a way of solving differences with other countries is not the best solution in modern day international relations.
It is a clear violation of the rights of other nations.
In this case, the US should show some respect to countries in Africa by having a re-look at the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
We totally reject the argument being advanced by representatives of the US in Zimbabwe, who want the world to believe that the sanctions are only targeted at individuals and some few entities.
This is a purely propaganda line of argument that has failed to stick.
Surely, the whole of Southern Africa cannot rise up in unison against the illegal sanctions if they are indeed targeted at a few individuals and firms.
We also do not agree with the selective argument being advanced by US ambassador Brian Nichols which suggests that the sanctions have had no effect on the Zimbabwean economy.
Mr Nichols maintains the “targeted sanctions” position, despite that this line no longer has any takers.
In fact, we are surprised by this argument which tends to totally give a blind eye to the existence of ZIDERA and its devastating effects on the Zimbabwean economy.
We await the day when Mr Nichols unpacks ZIDERA and see if it will buttress his argument that the illegal sanctions are only targeted.
It is a fact that the sanctions imposed by the US frightens potential investors who would want to deal with Zimbabwe.
They also instill fear in international monetary authorities from doing business with the country.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Interview Julia Chapman
President Emmerson Mnangagwa (ED) was this week in Russia where he attended the Russia-Africa Summit that ended on Thursday. On Wednesday night, Julia Chapman (JC) of Feature Stories News in Moscow had an interview with the President on various issues relating to Zimbabwe-Russia relations.
Below is the full transcript:
JC: Generally, how do you consider the relations to be between Russia and Zimbabwe right now?
ED: The relations that exist between the Russian Federation and Zimbabwe are historical. During our period of fighting against colonialism, we were supported by the then USSR which is now the Russian Federation in terms of training our military personnel, as well as supporting with military hardware. So, the cooperation is not beginning now; it has been there before. Currently, the focus is now on economic and trade cooperation because we are now independent.
JC: What are the main areas of cooperation between the two countries?
ED: We would want to benefit from the science and technology which the Russian Federation has developed in terms of agriculture, agro-processing, but of course also in the defence and security we have cooperation. But, principally, the economic needs which Zimbabwe needs as a result of sanctions. And of course, I know the Russian Federation is also under sanctions, but they have more capacity than ourselves to continue to assist us in developing trade between the two countries.
It’s not because they are under sanctions, it’s an issue of established relations that are there. We are only deepening and consolidating relations that have existed before and the current crop of leadership here, as well as Zimbabwe, are determined to solidify the relations that we have inherited from the former leaders.
JC: There is a huge attendance of African leaders today. What made you and the other leaders want to make this trip to Sochi, why do you think so many have come here?
ED: Africa as a continent is focusing now on economic development, is focusing now on continental trade and I think if you remember we signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA)which puts Africa as a market together, so that we now feel it is now necessary as a bloc to relate with other bigger economies like Russia and China, India, American economy and Japanese economy. So, as a bloc, we think it’s necessary that we stand together. Our voice will be heard if we are together than when we are separated.
JC: There are certain countries that have invested more money in Africa than Russia does. Russia’s trade with Africa is relatively small. What can Russia really offer?
ED: I believe that it is small because Russia has been having, after the break of the USSR, internal consolidation, and now I think they have reached a stage where they must look out and this is what is happening. This is why Africa is responding and we know Russia has never been a power that colonised Africa. We feel very free to trade and have cooperation than other Western countries that colonised us before.
Investment has been there now for three years or so, it continues to develop. The lead time is about three to four years for us to begin actual production when there is no issue. We feel we are on track.
JC: Why is Zimbabwe an attractive economic partner for Russia, given the economic instability in the country? Should Russia not be wary of investing there?
ED: Because of the sanctions we are facing, I think Russia would be more interested in assisting us knowing that we have historical relations. Russia assisted us to have our independence. I don’t think they would be interested to see us being crippled by these illegal sanctions which have been imposed on us by the Western countries.
JC: Do you believe Russia should not be expecting something from Africa or try to play an oversight role on the continent?
ED: Obviously, President Putin is the boss of the Russian Federation. I don’t think he would be telling lies to Africa. We believe in what he said to us that the relations he is promoting with Africa have no strings at all. And, in fact, this is also evidenced by the past relations which we had with Russia. No strings at all; it’s actually mutual trade, mutual relationship, mutual cooperation.
JC: Given there are serious economic problems in Zimbabwe, many people have been struggling with food and water shortages. When do you think people of Zimbabwe will see some of the benefits from economic cooperation with Russia?
ED: We should understand that when there is drought and climate change. I think you are aware that early this year, we had the Cyclone Idai which devastated Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, that had a serious impact on our economy, compounded by a severe drought that hit us. So, even our Kariba Dam which used to give us something like 950 megawatts, the water is so low that we are now able to produce 100 megawatts. So, we believe that now we are on the onset of the summer season and we believe that in terms of what we hear from our Meteorological Department that we are going to have better rains this year, we believe things will improve.
JC: Do you think Russia investment will improve the economic situation?
ED: Russia has already two or three major investments in the country in the mining sector in platinum, as well as in diamonds. They are also coming into agriculture, so we believe that adding to other investments that has come into the country will improve our economy.