May 19, 2024

By Lungile Siziba

Tanzania is a longtime friend of Zimbabwe.

The relations date back to the days of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle when nationalists crossed borders to go to Tanzania to receive military training at the Mgagao and Bagamoyo training camps.

President Mnangagwa is one of those who underwent military training at Bagamoyo in the early 1960s.

To honour Bagamoyo for the role it played in shaping his political career, the President took advantage of his two-day State visit to Dar es Salaam in July 2018 to visit the place where got military training, in preparation for a gruelling fight against white minority rule.

In August 2019, Tanzania elected to demonstrate to the rest of the region that its bond with Zimbabwe was unshakable, after it took advantage of hosting the 39th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government to call upon the region to adopt a motion that would see October 25 of every year being declared a day of solidarity against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

At that time, Tanzania was led by the late President John Pombe Magufuli, a committed and hardworking African who was determined to see the development of all African countries.

In a communique at the end of that summit, SADC countries resolved to declare October 25 as a day of solidarity against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West, principally the United States.

On the day, member States embark on various activities in their countries including protest marches, to demonstrate their dislike of the ruinous embargo, and demand the immediate removal of the sanctions.

Apart from the United States and the European Union bloc and some individual countries, imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe against the will of the United Nations Security Council.

A proposal was then made during that SADC Summit that the then African Union chairman and Egypt President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, escalate the matter at the United Nations General Assembly of that year.

President el-Sisi duly raised the matter at the 2019 UNGA conference, and since then, more voices have been raised by leaders of African countries, especially those in SADC who see first-hand the impact of the sanctions, and others from other regions who believe the US is abusing its authority to punish countries led by people they don’t like.

Political analysts say the economic sanctions are aimed at giving an unfair advantage to the opposition during elections, as they will go about promising to reopen industries once they win.

But Zimbabweans have largely refused to be used in fights they don’t believe in, and have continued to vote ZANU PF as they recently did, giving President Mnangagwa 52,6 percent of the vote and 136 National Assembly seats.

 Significant progress five years after SADC’s call

From 2019, it is now five years since SADC decided to lead from the front, in the fight against the unjust sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

And as October 25, 2023 draws closer, SADC leaders once again chose the grand stage of the recent 78th UNGA in New York, to speak truth to power.

They unanimously reiterated that sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are hurting the economy, affecting citizens and neighbouring countries.

Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Hage Geingob of Namibia and Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, among others, condemned the sanctions and called for their immediate lifting to allow the people, including those in neighbouring countries, to live normal lives.

President Ramaphosa’s views on sanctions

President Ramaphosa, who has been willing to put his head on the block several times especially since the August 2023 general elections, was the first to condemn the sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe and Cuba.

Zimbabwe has been under US sanctions since December 2001, simply for embarking on the Land Reform Programme that dispossessed some white former commercial farmers of vast tracts of land which they were not using optimally.

The land redistribution exercise sought to correct colonial land ownership imbalances that saw just over 4 000 white people controlling nearly 80 percent of all arable land.

The black majority, who actually took up arms to fight the racist colonial system, had to make do with rocky and barren pieces of land where they would take one 50kg bag when harvesting and in most cases fail to fill it with maize from over a hectare.

Said President Ramaphosa: “The sanctions that are also being applied against South Africa’s neighbour, Zimbabwe, should also be lifted as they are imposing untold suffering on ordinary Zimbabweans, but also have a collateral negative impact on neighbouring countries as well such as my own country, South Africa.”

President Geingob slams unjust sanctions

“I always say that you do not make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies.                  Punitive measures imposed for over half a century on the Republic of Cuba, have brought untold hardships that have disenfranchised the Cuban people.

“The embargo against the Cuban people remains unjust and must therefore be lifted. Namibia appeals to the United States of America to remove the Republic of Cuba from the list of State sponsors of terrorism, as there is no evidence to support such a classification.

“Selective punitive measures against Zimbabwe and Venezuela must also be lifted, as these measures constitute the greatest obstacle to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.

President Geingob added that the challenges confronting the world today, “are not insurmountable”.

“By holding hands and by renewing our commitment to multilateralism, we can reverse the worst effects of the unprecedented global challenges of global warming, global inequality, pandemics, and conflicts.

“By holding hands, we have it within us to act now and to build the world we want. In that world, no one will feel left out.”

In President Geingob’s view, by imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe, the US wants Harare not to develop at the same pace as others, particularly at this point when the world is grappling with various challenges such as the effects of Covid-19 and climate change.

The 78th UNGA ran under the theme, “Rebuilding Trust and Reigniting Global Solidarity: Accelerating Action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards Peace, Prosperity, Progress, and Sustainability for all.”

President Mnangagwa castigates sanctions

The President said Zimbabwe has been under illegal, unilateral economic sanctions for 23 years, imposed by some Western countries. 

He said the sanctions were designed to subjugate the sovereign will of the Zimbabwean people.  

“We, therefore, demand that the unjustified unilateral sanctions be unconditionally lifted, including those imposed on countries like Cuba. “We remain grateful for the support and solidarity of progressive countries in the comity of nations.” 

Despite sanctions, Zim economy rises

When the US imposed the sanctions on Zimbabwe, they declared they wanted to make the country “scream” so that the economy would collapse and citizens would demand a change of Government from the revolutionary ZANU PF to a puppet regime in the form of the MDC, now called CCC.

But ZANU PF has crafted survival strategies, which included allowing more Chinese and Russian investors to invest in Zimbabwe, after Western investors pulled out in line with orders from their governments.

In addition, the ZANU PF Government has deliberately resolved to support all communal farmers, and even the new black commercial farmers, with free inputs and mechanisation equipment to boost yields. 

This has worked wonders, especially following the coming in of the Second Republic in late 2017, led by President Mnangagwa, as yields for all crops are now sky high.

In terms of wheat, a record of 375 000 tonnes was achieved last year, while this year, a new record of 430 000 tonnes is envisaged.

In terms of maize, the country has been food secure in the last three seasons, to the extent that it is now exporting maize to countries in need such as Rwanda and others.

Wheat exports will resume next year.

Cotton has also been boosted from nothing in 2017 to a US$100 million export sector last year following various interventions by President Mnangagwa.

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