By Victoria Ojeme
The Southern African Development Community, SADC wants the Nigeria government to support its efforts at securing the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United State and the European Union.
SADC said the sanctions are unjustified and have brought about untold suffering to the people of Zimbabwe and the entire SADC Region.
The High Commissioner of Tanzania to Nigeria, Muhidin Ally made the call yesterday at a press event in Abuja organised by SADC to mark solidarity with Zimbabwe saying the SADC cannot turn blind eyes and allow the injustice to be perpetuated on Zimbabweans.
“The sanctions have turned what was once one of the most vibrant African economies and bread basket of southern Africa into a proverbial [old giant].”
“They deserve an opportunity to live dignified lives. They deserve an opportunity and have the capacity hanging over them. An injury to one is an injury to all,” he stated.
Ally specifically called on the government of the Nigeria to stand by Zimbabwe in the just course as they did as a member of the front line states during the struggle for Zimbabwean independence.
The European Union and US imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 and 2003 respectively after Harare repossessed its land from the minority white farmers for re-distribution to the landless blacks.
The West accused Harare of committing human rights violations during the land reform program, a charge that Harare has repeatedly denied.
Recognizing the socio-economic impact of the sanctions on Zimbabwe, SADC, at its 39th Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Tanzania last August, set aside October 25 as a day for member states to stand in solidarity with Zimbabwe and speak with one voice in calling for the immediate lifting of the sanctions.
According to the Tanzanian High Commissioner, “Sanctions on Zimbabwe are now out-of-date and a blunt foreign policy tool of economic coercion with far-reaching adverse consequences on the lives of ordinary people.”
SADC said the sanctions have devastated the Zimbabwean economy by limiting Zimbabwe access to lines of credit, in the process weakening the country’s balance of payment position.
The sanctions have also impacted on Zimbabwe the ability to attract foreign direct investment FDI which is essential for economic growth.
“Sanctions on Zimbabwe have also made it difficult for the country to fully realise the benefits of its mineral wealth despite being richly endowed with a vast number of minerals including diamonds, gold and platinum amongst many others.”
“The sanction have had downstream affects on the key socio economic sectors including health, tourism education, energy and transport,” Ally said.
On his part, Counselor and Head of Chancery of Zimbabwe, TO Makuke said solidarity is what Zimbabwe is seeking from the Federal Government of Nigeria to help in lifting the sanctions placed on it by the US Government and the EU.
“The impact of the sanctions has affected the whole country which is making many to leave the country. This has limited investors from coming to the country and it has affected agriculture business and foreign exchange negatively,” he said.
Also speaking, the high commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria, Humphrey Desmond said many persons with professional skills have left Zimbabwe due to the sanctions, and it has affected the health sector negatively.
He called on Nigeria, which he described as “the giant of Africa and most influencer country in Africa” to support Zimbabwe as they have been supporting other African countries in the lifting of the sanctions.
The prevailing sanctions on Zimbabwe, including the unlawful restrictions on multilateral financing and business dealings with U.S. companies, have negatively impacted on the strategic economic sectors of Zimbabwe and presents barriers to innovation, investment and growth.
Sustained sanctions will imply continued lack of access to multilateral financing and therefore no prospects for economic resuscitation in Zimbabwe.
Instead, the economy will continue to grapple with public debt, inflation, unemployment, low foreign direct investment and limited supply of goods and services, with negative and devastating impacts on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.