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Mnangagwa describes sanctions as 'weapons of mass destruction'

THE West's sanctions on Zimbabwe are like "weapons of mass destruction" which are hurting ordinary people, with the potential to undermine the country's unity and peace, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

Mnangagwa also said yesterday that sanctions were hurting the government's plans to turn around the country's battered economy and Zimbabwe's access to international finance.

This comes as the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) maintain that Mnangagwa's administration has not done enough to have the sanctions lifted.

It also comes as Sadc nations yesterday commemorated the Anti-Sanctions Day in solidarity with Zimbabwe.

In a virtual address to the nation yesterday, Mnangagwa said the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) and executive orders passed by the government of the USA in 2001, in particular, had constrained the country's economic development.

"Sanctions are a blunt, coercive instrument with far-reaching implications on the ordinary people, especially women, children, youths, the elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

"My country's citizens have fallen victim to this indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction which is being deceitfully presented to the world as targeted.

"Sanctions are, without doubt, a form of aggression against my country and a tool of regime change.

"Coupled with the vicious cyber-attack and hostile propaganda calculated to divide Zimbabwe, sanctions undermine our peace, unity and national cohesion.

"The cyber-attacks on my country are built on gross falsehoods and non-existent narratives of a nation in crisis. I would like to once again reiterate that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe," Mnangagwa said.

"Due to the sanctions, Zimbabwe has had limited access to multilateral and financial support from international financial institutions.

"The cumulative effects of these illegal sanctions have been devastating in every sector of our economy," he said further.

Paying tribute to Sadc member states for their solidarity with Zimbabwe in calling for the unconditional removal of the sanctions, Mnangagwa said this was a reflection of the "principled revolutionary character of our regional body which has consistently opposed injustices and oppression".

"This has its genesis in our rich liberation heritage and must embolden us to face head-on the neo-colonial machinations by detractors and opponents of former liberation movements," he added.

Mnangagwa's address came as the chairperson of the Sadc Council of ministers, Nataniel Macamo Dhlovo - who is also Mozambique's Foreign Affairs minister - argued at the weekend that Harare had done almost everything to show its sincerity in addressing the country's political and economic challenges.

"For almost two decades, unilateral economic sanctions have stunted the country's economic growth and limited the overall prosperity of the Zimbabwean people.

"Zimbabwe, like many other African nations, continues to bear the brunt of multiple global challenges.

"The detrimental effects of climate change including Cyclone Idai and three successive years of devastating drought have impacted negatively upon its food security and a number of key sectors" Dhlovo said.

"This already serious situation has been compounded by the social and economic consequences brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The severe economic downturn resulting from the pandemic has seriously limited the government's ability to effectively fund public services, maintain welfare programmes and invest in struggling industries.

"Zimbabweans need to be given space to effectively respond to the many challenges it faces. Under the leadership of president … Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe is currently undertaking extensive and courageous political and economic reforms," Dhlovo added.

"Important laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act have been repealed," Dhlovo also said.

"The administration's efforts to enhance governance, operational transparency and the ease of doing business have resulted in the improvement of its rankings on various global indexes. Many other reforms are currently work in progress.

"The recent US$3,5 billion compensation agreement with representatives of some 3 000 farmers whose land was acquired under the fast track land reform programme of the early 2000s is also a clear demonstration of the administration's commitment to the reform agenda to address legacy issues in a fair and transparent manner and honouring her pledge to place the county on a different and positive trajectory," he added.

This comes as the USA has re-iterated its desire to see Mnangagwa and his government succeed in improving the lives of long-suffering Zimbabweans.

Speaking to our sister publication the Daily News On Sunday in an exclusive interview earlier this month, USA ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said Washington remained ready to assist the country - as long as Mnangagwa and the government fulfilled the promises that were made after the dramatic fall from power of the late former preside Robert Mugabe.

"The United States shares the desires of the people of Zimbabwe who want to see a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe that provides for its people and contributes to regional stability.

"To realise these goals, we strongly believe it is important that government and non-governmental entities alike promote our shared values and work in areas of common concern.

"Whenever we may differ on the best means of achieving these goals, we will seek to engage in a dialogue that is respectful and that seeks to uphold the universal values and rights that Zimbabweans fought so hard to gain 40 years ago," Nichols told the Daily News On Sunday.

However, he also said the USA government was keen to see Mnangagwa fulfilling the promises that were made when he replaced Mugabe.

This comes as Mnangagwa and his administration have been accused of blowing the international goodwill which followed the fall of Mugabe, via a stunning and widely-supported military coup.

But the government has also been credited with expunging some repressive laws from the statute books that were routinely used by Mugabe's regime to punish political opponents and independent media like the Daily News.

Relations between Zimbabwe and the West have been frosty since the country embarked on chaotic and widely-criticised land reforms, which saw many commercial farmers losing their land at the height of Mugabe's ruinous rule.

The move proved disastrous for the country and its long-suffering citizens, as this resulted in Zimbabwe's isolation from the rest of the international community, while also destroying the critical agricultural sector.

It also saw Zimbabwe's credit lines and trade facilities being blocked following the imposition of sanctions on the country - amid widespread criticism of Harare's human rights record.

This subsequently resulted in Zimbabwe hitting rock bottom economically a decade ago, which left most citizens dirty poor and living on less than a dollar a day - with many companies closing down and investors pulling out.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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