By Robert Tapfumaneyi, New Zimbabwe
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has repeatedly accused the US and UK of pushing for regime change in Zimbabwe, Sunday offered an olive branch to the two countries pleading with them to accept his “hand of peace and reunion”.
He was speaking on the national broadcaster, ZTV where he was addressing the SADC region on Anti-Sanctions Day.
The UK, US and the European Union imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe at the turn of the century in response to gross human violations in the country and failure by the Zanu PF government to implement political and economic reforms.
However, Mnangagwa said there was a need to normalise relations: “I further acknowledge and commend the EU for taking some positive steps towards normalising relations with my country.
“We urge the United States of America and the United Kingdom to reciprocate the hand of peace and friendship Zimbabwe has extended. Our friendship remains stretched out to all,” he said.
However, earlier in his speech, Mnangagwa accused the UK and US of pushing a regime change agenda to remove his government from office by imposing targeted sanctions.
“Sanctions are without doubt a form of aggression against my country and a toll of regime change. The cumulative effects of these illegal sanctions have been devastating in every sector,” Mnangagwa said.
SADC member states last week rallied behind Zimbabwe in calling for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
“Sanctions are a blunt coercive instrument with far-reaching implications on the ordinary people. My country’s citizenry has fallen victim to this indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction which is being deceitful presented to the world as targeted.”
Mnangagwa said the West had also embarked on vicious cyber-attack and hostile propaganda to divide Zimbabwe.
“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 on the crisis. I would like once again to reiterate there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa added it was ordinary citizens who were suffering due to the travel and trade embargoes imposed on some senior Zanu PF and government officials including a number of companies.
“They continue to make sacrifices for our sovereignty and territorial integrity. I applaud their resilience courage, fortitude, and unflinching determination in enduring the impacts of the illegal sanctions.
“Surviving under the baneful shadow of sanctions has not been easy for us,” he added.
However, in response, the US and EU embassies in Harare at the weekend insisted it was not the sanctions to blame, but that the administration was using the anti-sanctions mantra to distract the masses from genuine problems facing Zimbabwe.
UK ambassador Melanie Robinson said; “It’s not sanctions, it’s corruption that drives away investors and leaves teachers, doctors, nurses, and services struggling.
“Zimbabweans must be free to expose corruption, rights abuses, and see perpetrators face justice.”
Brian Nichols, the US ambassador said the government was using a lot of energy to rally SADC countries to denounce sanctions instead of channeling the robustness to implement reforms.
“I think if the government of Zimbabwe put the energy that they put into organising these types of events and generating statements from other SADC members into pursuing the reform agenda the better,” he said.
“The government of Zimbabwe campaigned and talked about reform three years ago in November 2017 and 2018 at the inauguration of President Mnangagwa.
If they have events on the reform agenda and the conditions, the restrictive measures that the US, the EU, Canada, and Australia, and others have imposed would be met. I think this is a hollow exercise in that it does not solve the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.
On Friday, SADC Heads of Mission in Malawi met at the High Commission of Mozambique in Lilongwe where they called on the USA to immediately rescind the economic sanctions placed on Zimbabwe since 2001.
At a joint press briefing by acting Ambassador of Zimbabwe, Mfaro Charambira, said the two decades-long economic sanctions are negatively affecting economic growth of Zimbabwe.
Charambira under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe is undertaking extensive and courageous political and economic reforms aimed at enhancing governance, operational transparency and ease of doing business on various global indexes.
In a letter addressed to the US Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo — signed by chairperson of SADC Council of Ministers, Veronica Nataniel Macamo DIhovo — stated that Zimbabwe would prosper once the sanctions have been removed.
“As SADC, we believe that Zimbabwe will prosper if the sanctions have been removed, we also strongly believe that when Zimbabwe prospers, SADC and Africa also prosper, and when SADC and Africa prosper, so does the world.
“We, therefore, appeal to you, Mr. Secretary and through the Government of USA, to immediately lift the unilateral sanctions on Zimbabwe so that it may prosper in the face of the current challenges, thus contributing to the development of the SADC region as a whole,” reads part of the letter.—Additional Reporting by Maravi Express