The Interview by Farirai Machivenyika
Following the adoption of October 25 as the SADC Day of Solidarity against Sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe at the recent SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, our Senior Reporter Farirai Machivenyika (FM) caught up with Cde Kindness Paradza (KP), who chairs the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He is also a legislator for Makonde. For more, read the excerpts . . .
FM: SADC has declared October 25 as a day of solidarity against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and the EU. What is your take on that?
KP: First and foremost, for the first time, SADC has come together and said let’s deal with the situation of Zimbabwe once and for all, as a bloc. They are now seized with the matter. It’s no longer a Zimbabwe issue, but a SADC issue.
SADC is going to push on behalf of Zimbabwe. All along we have been doing it as individual countries in SADC, but now SADC has taken over that and it’s going to move that to the AU (African Union) at continental level and this coming September we are going to take it to the UN (United Nations).
So it’s going to be SADC and the African continent speaking with one voice on the issue to do with sanctions on Zimbabwe. Our colleagues in SADC have seen that it’s not now about sanctions, but about the regime change agenda. They say these sanctions are targeted, but if you look at the people who are suffering, these are the ordinary people and they are not on the sanctions list. All those on the sanctions list are living well.
FM: How significant is this declaration by SADC countries to the solidarity of the region?
KP: It is very (significant) because like I said, in the past it was individual voices, ours and other individuals countries.
The President of South Africa (Cyril Ramaphosa) was one of those who recently said sanctions must be removed at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, and now it’s no longer individuals, but the whole of SADC who are saying the conditions which you wanted Zimbabwe to meet, they have done and there is no need for sanctions, unless you have another agenda and we think it is about regime change.
Elections were done and they were peaceful elections. It was unfortunate that the opposition instigated violence on August 1 (last year), but the President (Cde Mnangagwa) went ahead and appointed the Motlanthe Commission and those recommendations of the commission are being dealt with by Government right now as a Ministerial Committee to deal with them has been set up. The President is implementing most of the commission’s recommendations.
There were also recommendations from electoral observer missions from the US and others and we are also implementing those resolutions, this is why as Parliament we are going to review our electoral laws so that we implement what the observers said.
FM: What lessons can the rest of Africa draw from this solidarity shown by SADC?
PK: SADC has taken the lead and it’s good and shows that Africa has realised that they are being used by the West and the erstwhile colonisers.
So Africa has now opened up their eyes. This is why we now have the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and we have ratified that and it’s going to be implemented.
As a united Africa, we are a powerhouse; we are richer than any other continent in terms of resources. We have human resources, we have natural resources; we have everything.
Most of these countries are getting their resources from Africa and now, time has come to say (as) Africa, we do our own things and this is a precursor to it. So it’s a message to the world that Africa has come of age, Africa now wants to deal with its own issues.
At continental level, the AU is going to move with what SADC has started.
FM: The SADC resolution directs member countries to engage in various activities to show their disapproval of the sanctions.
What kind of activities do you see being done?
PK: As they have said, October 25 has been declared as the Anti-Zimbabwe Sanctions Day, so we are going to have rallies to make sure people understand what this is all about and we think that the rest of SADC will do the same and also that motions would be moved in Parliament in support of this.
Our SADC Parliamentary Forum will also take it up as well so that the day is recognised within SADC, then possibly next year we move it to the rest of Africa. We are going to say we don’t want any of our countries to have sanctions imposed on them by anyone of our erstwhile colonisers.
FM: How do your rate the chances of success in all this?
PK: It’s going to succeed because the call is going to be done as a bloc and not a lone voice. It’s now going to be a continental voice, so it’s going to be effective. Most Western countries did not want us to have our Free Trade Area because they wanted to continue enjoying our resources.
Now we are saying as Africa, we are rich and we can do it on our own, so we must do it on our own.
FM: How does this re-engagement fit into the overall re-engagement and engagement thrust?
PK: It (the declaration) has come at the opportune time when we have the issue of re-engagement.
It’s a message that has been sent to those countries that have imposed sanctions that what you have done to Zimbabwe is unfair.
Zimbabwe has carried out a number of reforms and is also implementing others, so there is no need for continuation of sanctions unless there are ulterior motives.
We actually think there are such ulterior motives, that is why there are these sponsored demonstrations meant for regime change. They are stage-managed.
FM: Western countries continue to cite absence of democracy, human rights abuses, among other issues for the continuation of sanctions. Is this justified?
PK: Not at all, President Mnangagwa has come in with a reform agenda that is different from the past and like he said, he wants to engage with anyone and has engaged in these various reforms; be they economic, political and social, so that Zimbabwe re-joins the global community.
All these have been voluntary reforms and so there is no need for anyone to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe.
So the reasons (for the continuation of sanctions) are being used as excuses to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe.
As the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, I have been engaging with these ambassadors and they admit that we have done a lot in carrying out reforms, although there are few who want to see the sanctions maintained.
FM: Your last remarks Cde Paradza
PK: I just want to thank SADC for standing in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered for so long.