It is almost two decades since Zimbabwe was put under sanctions, mainly by the US and EU, due to these nations’ discontent with how the government handled the land question and general human rights matters during Robert Mugabe’s reign.
Whether the targeted sanctions reached their intended objective remains contested, but there is consensus that they have had a negative effect on the economy of Zimbabwe. The pinch of these sanctions is also felt by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and regional economy, and by extension the continental economy.
During this period of sanctions, the Zimbabwean economy was plunged into a crisis that saw many Zimbabweans leaving their country for opportunities in neighbouring countries and the world over. The period also saw the cost of living reach alarming levels.
In the past two years President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government have attempted to reposition Zimbabwe’s economy. This has included attempts to lure investors and deal with internal challenges that are hindering economic progress. This has proved a difficult job due to the sanctions.
Though removal of sanctions alone would not resolve the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, it would be a progressive step towards economic recovery. It would also have to be backed by internal political will and necessary economic reforms supported by the majority of the population. Mnangagwa has worked to address the latter, though it has not been without challenges.
At a recent summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzanian President John Magafuli, the new SADC chair, called for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted, since Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa has opened a new chapter and thus needs support from all parties.
The SADC has declared October 25 a day when collective voices can highlight their disapproval of sanctions against Zimbabwe. We should all rally behind this call so a new chapter can be opened for Zimbabwe, the SADC, Africa and her children.
Selamolela S Donald