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Remove sanctions on Zimbabwe, says UN special rapporteur

28 October 2021 - 08:00 By Lenin Ndebele
Sanctions should be removed from Zimbabwe, a UN special rapporteur has recommended.
Sanctions should be removed from Zimbabwe, a UN special rapporteur has recommended.
Image: File image

A UN special rapporteur has called for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the EU and the US after finishing a 10-day fact-finding mission in the country.

Harare invited Belarusian Alena Douhan to the country with the mandate of looking into the negative affect on human rights of the unilateral coercive measures.

Her visit coincided with the Southern African Development Community's (Sadc's) anti- sanctions day on Monday October 25. She toured different parts of Zimbabwe.

She didn’t meet opposition parties outside the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) , a collective of political parties sympathetic to President Emmerson Mnangagwa — something which didn’t sit well with the majority of civic society and the MDC Alliance.

In her statement upon finishing the mission she said: “Over the past 20 years, sanctions and various forms of over-compliance with sanctions has had an insidious ripple effect on the economy of Zimbabwe and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including access to health, food, safe drinking water and sanitation.”

She added: “The situation also limits Zimbabwe’s ability to guarantee the functioning of public institutions, delivery of service, and maintenance of essential infrastructure and undermines the right to development of the Zimbabwean people and impedes the achievement of the sustainable development goals.”

Her conclusion dovetails with Zanu-PF’s rhetoric that sanctions imposed on individuals and firms linked to the ruling party were hurting the economy.

In response to the government’s anti-sanctions call, MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere noted that the biggest “sanction” faced by the people of Zimbabwe was corruption at the hands of the ruling elite.

The UK’s embassy in Zimbabwe said the country's serious economic challenges had nothing to do with sanctions.

“Zimbabwe’s economy has serious challenges, but it’s not sanctions. Investors say there are steps Zimbabwe could take to improve its business climate and grow foreign direct investment — enacting currency reforms, guaranteeing property rights and investors' ability to obtain legal redress via the courts,” the statement read.

Trade between Zimbabwe and the UK last year was US$244m, with exports to the UK from Zimbabwe reaching US$55m. Zimbabwean businesses enjoy a duty free quota to the UK. Some of the Zimbabwean products that find their way into the UK are agro-based such as blueberries, peas and chillies.

The UK maintains that it didn’t impose sanctions on Zimbabwe but those on the list are individuals involved in corruption and serious cases of human rights abuses. This year alone, five people were added to the sanctions list.

The US embassy in Harare said sanctions on Zimbabwe seek to encourage sanctioned individuals to stop facilitating corruption and start respecting fundamental rights and democratic aspirations.

Anthony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said in a statement that his nation sought to promote human rights in Zimbabwe.

“Advancing democracy, promoting human rights and protecting fundamental freedoms continue to be top priorities for the US. America stands with the Zimbabwean people as you strive for a more democratic and prosperous future,” he said.