President Mnangagwa, who is scheduled to address the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today, has thanked South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa for using the Assembly platform to call for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
His address comes as the African Union (AU) used the ongoing UNGA to push for the removal of the illegal economic sanctions that some Western countries imposed on Zimbabwe as punishment for daring to distribute land to the majority black Zimbabweans at the turn of the millennium.
President Ramaphosa made the call in his address at the opening of the 75th session on Tuesday in his capacity as AU chairperson.
The session is being held virtually because of the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Posting on his Twitter account, President Mnangagwa said: “Thank you to @CyrilRamaphosa for once again calling for an end to the debilitating sanctions that have injured the people of Zimbabwe for almost two decades.”
In his address, President Ramaphosa called for the international community to support the rollout of a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries.
“This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of Covid-19 but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies.
“To ensure that no country is left behind, we reiterate our position as the African Union that economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan should be lifted to allow their governments to respond adequately to the pandemic,” he said.
President Ramaphosa told the General Assembly that Africa responded swiftly to the pandemic but resources diverted to fight the pandemic had set back the continent’s ability to provide safe water, health, housing and education.
The United States imposed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001 on Harare, along with an Executive Order 13288 of March 2003, which has been renewed yearly, while the European Union introduced its own measures in February 2002, but lifted most of its embargoes in 2014. Zidera effectively blocks Zimbabwe’s access to international finance and credit.
Under international law, international sanctions need to be authorised or imposed by the UN Security Council, which was never done in Zimbabwe’s case, making the sanctions illegal.
President Mnangagwa is expected to reiterate calls for the lifting of the sanctions that have stifled Zimbabwe’s economic development, leading to the suffering of many Zimbabweans.
The African Union and Sadc joined by China, Cuba and the Non-Aligned Movement made strong calls for the removal of the sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The General Assembly opening session is running under the theme “The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”.
In an interview yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said the Government will resort to the use of technology to engage and re-engage with the rest of the world during the Covid-19
Under the dark shadow cast by the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister Moyo said the country is adapting to a new normal and will use virtual platforms to amplify its message for the unconditional removal of sanctions as well as the country’s commitment to engagement with all world nations.
“It was during the Covid-19 period, that we have to adapt, readjust and adopt technology in a bid to reengage,” he said.
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister Moyo said, affected to a greater extent normal diplomacy, in particular the Second Republic’s mission to engage and re-engage with other nations.
“It is during the processing time that we have to adapt, re-adjust and adopt technology in a bid to re-engage. Therefore, that is why during this period of the United Nations General Assembly, we are going to be engaging different countries and different players. We have been doing so through virtual means, whereby we do virtual meetings with different players. The touch, face to face meetings is missing. What is missing is the body language within diplomacy,” said Minister Moyo.
Despite the Covid-19 induced setbacks, Minister Moyo said Zimbabwe was determined to re-engage the world and was doing everything it could to improve the welfare of its people.
The policy to engage and re-engage was President Mnangagwa’s approach in the Second Republic in seeking to reposition Zimbabwe in the global family of nations, following years of isolation.
Progress was being made on that front, despite spirited attempts to scuttle the process by some local and foreign quarters especially the opposition MDC-A, some churches and civil society groups.