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Editorial Comment – Sanctions: Time UN shows some teeth, grit

The ongoing 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the United States, presents an interesting read on Zimbabwe.

This is moreso considering that for the first time, the anti-sanctions lobby will reverberate through the UN headquarters corridors from different angles.

In the past, former President Robert Mugabe appeared to be a lone voice at the UN General Assembly calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions on his country.

Of course, we do not demean efforts other African leaders have made both at the UN and at other fora to call for the removal of illegal sanctions.

But these efforts were not coordinated and synchronised as is the case we are witnessing this time around.

The SADC bloc has rabidly opposed the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and the European Union to the extent of declaring October 25 as the Anti-Sanctions Day.

The day was declared at SADC’s 39th Summit held in Tanzania in August, and the Southern African leaders pledged to voice their concern on the illegal sanctions at the UN General Assembly.

President Mnangagwa is expected to lead the cast in condemning the illegal sanctions and calling for their immediate removal when he addresses the gathering.

SADC chairperson and Tanzania President John Magufuli will speak on behalf of the region against the sanctions.

The SADC leaders also agreed to lobby Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is the African Union chairperson, to raise the same issues with the UN authorities.

This time around, Africa has a united stand against the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe and we expect the UN to listen and take action.

Surely, the UN cannot afford to ignore the voices of 1,2 billion Africans, who constitute a major chunk of its membership.

But we have noticed with concern that the UN has done almost nothing with regards to the illegal sanctions which have crippled Zimbabwe’s economic progress.

This is rather surprising considering that the same sanctions were flatly rejected by the UN Security Council in 2008 and on many other attempts.

So, if the UN Security Council rejected these sanctions, why is the UN failing to take against member states that have decided on unilateral action?

It must be put on record that China and the Russian Federation voted against the draft resolution that would also have imposed an arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

The draft resolution would have also imposed a travel ban and financial freeze against former President Mugabe and 13 senior Government and security officials.

Despite the rejection of the draft resolution by the Security Council, the US and the EU went ahead to impose the same provisions as sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The US went further and came up with the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act which has ensured that the country does not access any financial assistance from international institutions.

The US system has also been freezing financial transactions of companies based in Zimbabwe, wading off potential foreign investors who now are viewing the country as a risk.

The sanctions have had devastating effects on Zimbabwe’s general populace in many ways, including those living in rural areas.

But this time around, we hope the UN will take note of the concerns being raised by Africans on the illegal sanctions.

Apart from the protest from SADC and AU, we have seen thousands of US citizens taking to the streets denouncing the sanctions and calling on the UN to act fast to restore sanity in world affairs.

The inclusion of the anti-sanctions lobby by SADC and the AU is a clear sign that the illegal sanctions have affected not only Zimbabwe, but the whole continent.

Zimbabwe is a major economic player in both SADC and the AU, and the suffering of its economy is bound to have ripple effects on the continent.

It is time that the UN acknowledges that the illegal sanctions are badly affecting its work in Zimbabwe because some of the systems it uses have been dismantled because of the sanctions.

We expect the UN General Assembly to tackle these illegal sanctions, which are a result of defiance by the US and the EU.

It is time the UN shows some teeth in dealing with the unjust treatment of other states by fellow states which consider themselves superior and almighty.

We have also repeatedly heard even the US President Donald Trump saying Zimbabwe poses a security threat to his country.

There is also a false narrative being peddled by the Western countries that Zimbabwe poses a threat to international peace and security.

Surely, we find it laughable that a tiny country like Zimbabwe, as compared to the US, can pose any security threats to the country which considers itself a giant in terms of world affairs.

The UN should not continue to create doubts in the minds of developing countries on its impartiality, as has already been shown by this episode.

The illegal sanctions are just an expression of imperialists’ desire to recolonise, not only Zimbabwe, but African countries.

And we do not want the UN to continue giving an impression that it is part of this unreasonable and unjustified belief by ignoring the anti-sanctions lobby.

We hope the voices of Africans and their allies will this time matter to the world body, which we expect to join the call for the removal of the illegal sanctions.

Source :

The Herald

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