At the ongoing sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, Kwesi Quartey, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission called for the immediate removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West and the US.
While addressing delegates during a session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa at the forum, Quartey said that the removal of sanctions will pave way for more effective engagement of women and youths in “the multifaceted process of accelerated development” that will take place in Zimbabwe.
With the forum theme as “2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063,” The Deputy Chairperson of AU also stated that “for us to build conducive conditions to achieve these lofty ambitions, the AU has called for all the sanctions on this country (Zimbabwe) to be lifted immediately.”
The United States and the European Union (EU) have both maintained sanctions, citing a lack of progress in democratic and human rights reforms as well as restrictions on press freedoms. In 2002, the EU imposed restrictive measures and freezing assets of selective members in the Zimbabwean government including individuals associated with them. At some point, there were over 100 people and firms on the EU’s blacklist with travel restrictions alongside restriction on the sale of military hardware and equipment which might be used for internal repression.
Similarly, the United States in 2003 placed trade and economic sanctions in Zimbabwe on allegations of human rights abuse. Other sanctions were placed restricting certain individuals in the country’s government through travel bans and financial limits.
Zimbabwe’s economy has faced deep economic crises over the past few years with periods of hyperinflation rendering the local currency worthless, likewise severe shortages of fuel, power, and water. The Zimbabwean government has regularly blamed the dire economic performance on sanctions arguing that it cost the country billions of dollars.
There is little or no evidence to suggest that US and EU sanctions are directly responsible for Zimbabwe’s troubles. Tibor Nagy US Assistant Secretary of State on African Affairs affirmed that the US has “sanctions against certain individuals and certain corporations not against the country of Zimbabwe.” However, the late former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe claimed that “Zimbabwe’s economy is heavily concentrated in particular sectors, and sanctions on only a few people or companies can have a devastating impact.”
Nevertheless, the EU has removed Robert Mugabe from its sanctions list while top Zimbabwean politicians like his widow Grace Mugabe, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri and Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda remain on the list under restrictive measures.