The Sunday Mail
Lincoln Towindo and Kuda Bwititi
Sadc is prepared to constantly and systematically engage countries and multilateral institutions over sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, and is hopeful the embargo will eventually be scrapped, executive secretary of the 16-member regional body Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax has said.
Regional leaders declared October 25 as a day of solidarity with Harare during the 38th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government held in Tanzania in August.
Countries are expected to hold a series of events to mark the day in their respective countries.
Dr Tax said the secretariat has been constantly liaising with member states to update them on the impact of sanctions, which have had a contagion effect on the region.
A study commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade estimates that the country could have lost over US$42 billion in revenue over the past 18 years.
“We do expect that our appeal will be heard by the countries and (multilateral) organisations which have imposed sanctions with a view to completely remove them,” said Dr Tax in e-mailed responses to The Sunday Mail.
“This requires a constant and systematic engagement over time and at various levels.
“Through relevant structures, Sadc has engaged countries at bilateral and multilateral level, providing information on the impact of sanctions and advocating for their complete removal.
“Sadc secretariat supports member states in articulating a common position while coordinating and facilitating its dissemination using all available platforms and fora.”
Resolutions from a high-level AU meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last year calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions, she said, will be followed through.
“In this regard, the 797th Ministerial meeting of Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the AU held on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 called upon all members of the international community that have imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe to remove them, without any further delay, in order to facilitate early socio-economic recovery in the country.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa will preside over the main event at the National Sports Stadium on Friday, which will be preceded by a march from Robert Mugabe Square.
A representative of Sadc chairperson and Tanzania’s President Dr John Magufuli will attend.
All provinces will also host various activities.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana said the event will build the national and international critical mass needed to turn the tide.
“We are building national and international critical mass against sanctions, which, in our case, are a crime against humanity as they are causing so much untold suffering and deaths . . . and negatively affecting the prospects of future generations,” he said.
“We have 15 other states speaking on our behalf and many organisations saying enough is enough.”
The regional push, Mr Mangwana said, was reminiscent of the effort that felled apartheid in South Africa.
Harare hopes that the advocacy by regional and international allies will gradually snowball into the much-needed diplomatic leverage to remove the embargo.
“What this exercise does is to mount diplomatic pressure on those who have imposed sanctions on our country,” he said.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) chairperson Mr Elasto Mugwadi said the commission is ratcheting up its international lobby at regional, continental and global fora for the punitive measures to be lifted.
ZHRC has since taken the anti-sanctions push to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), a UN-affiliated organisation.
“At the continental level, we have the Network of National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), which is a continental body, and we are affiliated to the African Union Commission on Human and People’s Rights, and we have a seat in Gambia.
“Next (this) week, NANHRI is convening a meeting and we are going to deliver a statement at that platform to lobby for the removal of the sanctions and also give a position on how these measures have affected millions of Zimbabweans.”
Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu said the ruling party is mobilising its supporters for the event, with preparatory meetings already underway.
“This event will be held throughout the country and we have directed all our provinces to host Provincial Coordinating Committee meetings this weekend to finalise preparations. We expect our supporters to fully support this programme,” said Dr Mpofu.
“This day is very important to us a party because Sadc has fully supported us in making a bold statement against those power countries that they should lift these illegal sanctions which are punishing innocent people.”