By Spy Uganda
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: The African Union on Monday repeated its calls for an end to international sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in southern Africa reeling under economic hardship since its decision to reapportion land to tillers.
The call was made by chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat in support of the Southern African Development Community’s decision to commemorate Oct. 25, 2020 as Anti-Sanctions Day.
“The Chairperson reaffirms the African Union’s continued demand for the immediate and unconditional removal of sanctions imposed against the Republic of Zimbabwe,” a press release by the Addis Ababa-based AU Commission read.
It adds, “The Chairperson recalls the continuity of his call since 2017 where the Commission, its relevant organs including the Peace and Security Council and the Bureau of Heads of State and Government, have consistently voiced the Union’s concerns regarding the negative impact of the persistent economic sanctions on the economy and people of Zimbabwe.”
In 2002 and 2003, the US imposed targeted measures on the government of Zimbabwe, including financial and visa sanctions against selected individuals, a ban on transfers of defense items and services, and a suspension of non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance.
The US and the EU have both maintained sanctions, citing a lack of progress in democratic and human rights reforms as well as restrictions on press freedoms.
Financial and travel restrictions currently apply to 85 individuals, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
There are also 56 companies or organisations facing restrictions.
“We have sanctions against certain individuals and certain corporations… not against the country of Zimbabwe. There is nothing to stop US businesses from investing in Zimbabwe, from going to Zimbabwe,” says US Assistant Secretary of State on African Affairs Tibor Nagy.
Washington says the economic impact is mostly on farms and companies owned by these designated individuals.
The US also put a ban on arms exports, travel restrictions and a freeze on assets, along with the sale of military hardware and equipment which might be used for internal repression.
Despite Mnangagwa having offered to return land to foreign nationals whose farms were seized under a controversial government program two decades ago, EU, US sanctions have remained active.