Calls for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe gained traction this week, but the SADC Anti-Sanctions Day in Gaborone was marred by an opposition demonstration on Monday.
The regional block set aside October 25 as the day in, which campaigns will be held throughout member states for the call of the lifting of targeted sanctions. Harare argues, the restrictions impedes economic progress.
In Gaborone, a handful of opposition Movement for Democratic Change supporters demonstrated outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, venue of the SADC Anti-Sanctions Day.
Botswana branch MDC-Alliance organizing secretary, Taurai Mavhoko accused his government of “hiding behind sanctions.”
“As concerned citizens of Zimbabwe, our message is that the Zimbabwean government is trying to play victim yet they are the culprit. They are the perpetrators of the conditions that invited sanctions in Zimbabwe. This thing they have to do for the sanctions to go, is to reform,” Mavhoko said.
Several envoys from countries such Angola, China, Mozambique, Russia, South Africa, Saharawi Republic attended the event.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Botswana, Henry Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said sanctions were hurting the former bread basket, and there was immediate need to remove the restrictions.
He said there has been notable reforms, which should convince America, the UK and other western powers, to unconditionally lift the sanctions.
“Zimbabwe has made a lot of strides in repealing a number of legislation perceived to be hampering progress. A number of things have happened, and we hope that those who imposed sanctions will take heed and say that we
The Chinese Ambassador to Botswana, Dr Zhao Yanbo equated the sanctions to “crimes against humanity” and called for their immediate removal.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic and the people of Zimbabwe are struggling. There is need for the unconditional removal of sanctions,” he said.
Mozambique’s High Commission to Botswana, Domingoes Fernandes said the sanctions undermine Zimbabwe’s efforts to respond to challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said there was need for dialogue between Zimbabwe and global partners, including countries which imposed sanctions.
Russia’s Ambassador to Botswana, Victor Sibilev, who is the dean of the diplomatic corps urged the west to remove the sanctions.
“These restrictions are affecting the people of Zimbabwe. The western powers seek to impose their agenda on Zimbabwe. Russia supports SADC’s position to lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe,” he said.
Saharawi Republic ambassador, Malainin Mohamed said Zimbabwe needed to enjoy its full rights, and therefore the sanctions should be lifted.
“We stand here, not because we are doing you any favour, but because you deserve our unconditional support for the lifting of these illegal sanctions. Everyone knows that these sanctions are illegal,” Mohamed said.
The United States and some European countries imposed targeted measures on the Government of Zimbabwe, including financial and visa sanctions against selected individuals.