Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa used the platform of the United Nations to deliver a clarion call for the removal of historical sanctions against his country. Speaking at the General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, he said the sanctions imposed against former president Robert Mugabe in 2003 by the United States and EU were now counter-productive, hurting Mnangagwa’s reform efforts to turn Zimbabwe around after decades of isolation and mismanagement. Mugabe died earlier this month.
“These sanctions constitute a denial of the human rights of the people of Zimbabwe, to develop and improve their quality of life. Furthermore, the sanctions are slowing down our progress, inhibiting our economic recovery, and punishing the poorest and most vulnerable,” President Mnangagwa told UN delegates.
The government’s tight fiscal austerity has already resulted in balanced books, sustained primary budget surpluses, and a degree of fiscal discipline unseen in Zimbabwe for decades. The country is meeting the fiscal and monetary targets agreed with the International Monetary Fund, despite reeling from drought and Cyclone Idai in March that have left 5.5 million people in need of food aid. And it expects to reduce the budget deficit from 12% of GDP to 5% in 2019.
President Mnangagwa pointed out: “The task facing us is great, the road is long, winding and at times bumpy. But so is our potential and determination to succeed… Zimbabwe deserves a restart.”
The government has begun to crack down on corruption, initiated the process of compensating white commercial farmers who lost their land during Mugabe’s Land Reform Programme. It is also modernising 30 Mugabe-era laws to meet Western standards, replacing controversial emergency and media laws with new legislations that are currently in Parliament.
The progress made by Zimbabwe was acknowledged by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who met President Mnangagwa on Monday.
“I think there are a number of areas where Zimbabwe has made real reforms. No one is perfect and it is a journey,” Baroness Scotland said, noting that the process of re-admitting Zimbabwe back into the Commonwealth was being “accelerated as quickly as possible”.
President Mnangagwa agreed, calling on all UN members: “Zimbabwe is reforming and undertaking a shared journey towards a better and more secure future… I urge the world to be patient with us, to support us and join us on this new and exciting journey.”
The Southern African Development Community has expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe, calling for an end to the crippling sanctions. The group of 16 nations announced in August that the Mugabe-era sanctions were no longer acceptable, hurting the growth of the new republic, and hampering the development of the entire region.
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SOURCE Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Zimbabwe