President Emmerson Mnangagwa has pleaded with the West to lift economic sanctions, as the United States continues to set tough conditions for their removal, the Daily News can report.
Giving his inaugural speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Mnangagwa, who is pushing for Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with other nations following years of isolation, described the sanctions as “illegal”.
“In a bid to improve nutrition and broaden income opportunities, we have also extended support to grow the livestock fisheries and wildlife sectors. We are confident that these multi-pronged programmes will accelerate Zimbabwe’s re-entry into the global economy and associated value chains.
“This is one example of innovation, creativity and home-grown solutions in addressing key developmental and economic challenges in spite of the continued illegal sanctions imposed on our country. We call for their immediate and unconditional removal,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been living in isolation for nearly two decades after the then president Robert Mugabe cut ties with the international community.
This was after he embarked on a bloody land reform programme that resulted in western countries including the United Kingdom and the US, imposing an economic embargo on Zimbabwe.
In 2001, Washington enacted the controversial Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) which blocked American firms and those with American interests from engaging in any form of trade with the southern Africa nation.
Several officials linked to Mugabe’s administration were also slapped with travel bans and their assets were frozen, as the country’s access to credit facilities was also blocked.
What followed were years of economic meltdown, which saw many Zimbabweans leaving the country in search of greener pastures in other countries.
Zimbabwe was reduced to one of the poorest nations in the world — from being the bread basket of southern Africa to a basket case.
The sanctions were imposed in a bid by the western nations to force Zimbabwe to restore the observance of human rights and democracy following years of rights violations and alleged stolen elections.
Mugabe had used such platforms as UNGA to lash out at the West over the sanctions, which he said contributed immensely to the suffering in Zimbabwe.
Following this fallout with the West in the early 2000s, Mugabe adopted a look East approach, as he “went to bed” with largely Asian countries.
But unlike his predecessor, Mnangagwa, has been seeking to re-engage with the international community, making a commitment to meet some of the conditions set by the West for the sanctions to be removed.
In his desperation to get White House to reconsider its position, Mnangagwa has even offered US President Donald Trump an opportunity to develop a golf course in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
Trump — a billionaire president — owns at least 19 pristine and private golf courses around the world.
His business influence reverberates across the globe.
US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Andrew Nichols on Tuesday said that Washington was prepared to lift sanctions if Mnangagwa was to follow the Constitution in dealing with the country’s affairs.
Recently, Washington introduced a Bill meant to amend the biting Zidera, which introduced tough sanctions against Mugabe personally, as well as many of his senior officials and State entities.
The Bill, referred to as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act of 2018, which has since been passed into law, does not only contain conditions which are specific to Mnangagwa’s new dispensation — but if these conditions are met, they will see Trump’s administration completely removing the current sanctions and re-establishing wholesome relations with Harare.
The Trump administration has urged Mnangagwa to walk the talk, and make meaningful changes that would open talking lines between the two nations.
Mnangagwa in his address also spoke about the recently-held elections, where he emerged the winner in a contested outcome.
“We are grateful to the United Nations and other member states for sending election observers and for the technical assistance received by our election management
body. The recommendations will be taken into account as we deepen our democratic and electoral processes.
“We shall continue to entrench constitutionalism, democratic traditions and norms, peace unity and harmony for it is indeed under such conditions that sustainable development, inclusive economic growth and prosperity can occur,” he said.
He, however, made reference to the post-election violence that took place in Harare on August 1, 2018.
“The isolated and unfortunate incident of post-election violence that occurred on August 1, 2018 is regrettable and most unacceptable,” he said.
Mnangagwa has since sworn in a seven-member commission of inquiry into the events that led to the death of at least six people.
The commission of inquiry is headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.
Other members of the commission of inquiry include lawyer and National Constitutional Assembly president Lovemore Madhuku, Zanu PF loyalist and academic Charity Manyeruke, Law Society of Zimbabwe’s ex-president Vimbai Nyemba, Rodney Dixon of the United Kingdom, former Tanzanian chief of defence forces General Davis Mwamunyange and former Commonwealth secretary-general Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria.
“The ultimate report and recommendations shall help us to bring closure to the matter and assist in the improvement of our governance,” he said.