Zimbabwe will next week use the opening of the 75th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), that will be held virtually because of Covid-19, to reiterate its call for the unconditional removal of illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed against it and other states.
The opening session will be held in virtual format from September 22 to 26. Global leaders will not meet in New York as had become a yearly tradition. President Mnangagwa will participate in the meetings via pre-recorded statements.
Illegal sanctions and other coercive measures imposed on Zimbabwe by the West 20 years ago have damaged the economy and slowed down development.
Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme of 2000 led the United States to impose illegal and unjustified sanctions under its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001 along with an Executive Order 13288 of March 2003 that has been renewed yearly.
The European Union also introduced its own sanctions in February 2002, but lifted most of its embargoes in 2014.
Zidera in particular effectively blocks Zimbabwe’s access to international finance and credit markets using the US muscle in global institutions to bar normal financing. Under international law, sanctions need to be authorised or imposed by the UN Security Council, which was never done in Zimbabwe’s case.
Because of Zimbabwe’s failure to honour its financial obligations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) since 1999, the Bretton Woods Institutions suspended balance of payment support and technical assistance.
Consequently, the country’s external payment arrears continually increased from US$109 million in 1999 to US$5.4 billion in 2017.
The arrears have been rising, now at more than 70 percent of total public and publicly guaranteed external debt.
The Government estimates that Zimbabwe has lost over US$42 billion in revenue over the past 18 years because of the sanctions.
It is believed that Zimbabwe lost bilateral donor support estimated at US$4.5 billion annually since 2001, US$12 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and African Development Bank, commercial loans of US$18 billion and a GDP reduction of US$21 billion.
Other African countries under the United States embargoes are Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Libya and Central African Republic.
Sadc is solidly behind Zimbabwe in calling for the unconditional removal of the two-decades-old measures.
Sadc called for the immediate lifting of the sanctions to facilitate socio-economic recovery in the country, and declared October 25 as the date on which member states can collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions through various activities and platforms until the sanctions are lifted.
The UN is expected to assert its authority and honour its principles by reining in countries that imposed the sanctions. The sanctions were illegal in that the UN rejected them through a veto by two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia in 2009. They were imposed anyhow, outside the global body’s framework.
The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou said the UN General Assembly provides an opportunity to call for the immediate removal of the sanctions, imposed in defiance of international treaties and law.
He said as Zimbabwe joins other countries in commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, the country would reaffirm its commitment to promoting the meaningful empowerment of women and girls as a cross-cutting issue.
Further, Zimbabwe would call for unity of purpose in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and other global challenges to ensure sustainable development anchored on multilateralism.
Overall, Ambassador Manzou said, Zimbabwe’s participation during the opening General Assembly session would be a demonstration of the country’s support for multilateralism, particularly in the context of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
Ambassador Manzou said as a country endowed with abundant flora and fauna, Zimbabwe would urge the international community to work in partnership to preserve biodiversity in light of the increased depletion of vital habitats and the growing number of species that were under threat as a consequence.
General Assembly President Ambassador Volkan Bozkir of Turkey will preside over the session.
The commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations will run under the theme: “The future we want, the United Nations we need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”.
Heads of state and government are expected to adopt a declaration that sets out 12 areas of commitment.