Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday hailed his South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa for using the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to call for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe.

President Ramaphosa made the call in his address to the opening session of the 75th session of the UNGA on Tuesday in his capacity as African Union chairperson being held virtually in light of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

Posting on his Twitter account, President Mnangagwa said: “Thank you to @CyrilRamaphosa for once again calling for an end to the debilitating sanctions that have injured the people of Zimbabwe for almost two decades.”

In his address, President Ramaphosa called for the international community to support the rollout of a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries.

“This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of Covid-19 but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies.

“To ensure that no country is left behind, we reiterate our position as the African Union that economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan should be lifted to allow their governments to respond adequately to the pandemic,” he said.

President Ramaphosa also told the General Assembly that Africa responded swiftly to the pandemic but said the resources diverted to fight the pandemic had set back the continent’s ability to provide safe water, health, housing and education.

The country has laboured under the effects of illegal sanctions since the turn of the millennium when Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform programme.

The United States imposed the “Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act” (Zidera) of 2001 on Harare, along with an Executive Order 13288 of March 2003, which has been renewed yearly, while the European Union introduced its own measures in February 2002, but lifted most of its embargoes in 2014.

Zidera effectively blocks Zimbabwe’s access to international finance and credit.

Under international law, international sanctions need to be authorised or imposed by the UN Security Council, which was never done in Zimbabwe’s case, making the sanctions illegal.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa addresses the UNGA today where he is expected to reiterate calls for the lifting of the sanctions that have choked Zimbabwe’s economic development leading to the suffering of many Zimbabweans.

The African Union and Sadc joined by China, Cuba and the Non-Aligned Movement made strong calls for the removal of the sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The UNGA is running under the theme “The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism.”