Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the southern African nation has made remarkable strides in transforming the nation despite targeted sanctions imposed by the West on some Zanu PF officials.
In a speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly that lasted just under 16-minutes, Mnangagwa, started with an acknowledgment of the passing of former President Robert Mugabe, and how his government has started turning the country around.
“Since I took over the leadership of Zimbabwe, much has been accomplished, with indicative recovery, stabilization and growth,” said Mnangagwa.
It was not long into his speech before Mnangagwa addressed the issue of sanctions, telling the assembly that while Zimbabwe has made great economic strides despite the sanctions, he said it’s time for them to go.
“Those that impose illegal sanctions must heed this call, and lift them now,” Mnangagwa declared, targeting the message largely to western countries such as the United States and Britain, which imposed targeted sanctions on some ruling party officials following allegations of human rights violations, election rigging and the appropriation of farm land from white Zimbabweans.
“Corporation is a win, win game. Sanctions are a lose, lose game,” said Mnangagwa, adding, “Zimbabwe deserves a restart.”
Mnangagwa applauded the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union, many of whose members, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, have openly criticized the sanctions and called for them to be lifted.
“My country applauds the Southern African Development Community and the African Union and all who stand with us in demanding the immediate and unconditional removal of these illegal sanctions,” said Mnangagwa.
In making a case for the lifting of sanctions and reengagement with the international community, Mnangagwa lauded his country’s effort to reform repressive and restrictive laws, media and civil rights laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act.
“To date the alignment of most of our laws to the Constitution is almost complete,” said Mnangagwa, and credited the assistance of the United Nations Development Program and other stakeholders.
“The outdated media laws - Access to Information Protection of Privacy and old Public Order and Security Act have been repealed. New laws in relation to these areas have been enacted.”
In terms of opening up political space in the country, Mnangagwa mentioned his efforts to engage opposition political parties.
“In our desire to deepen democratic space in our country, we have established an open political platform where we invite all political parties to frank debate and dialogue on aspects of our social, political and economic reforms,” he said.
Not all opposition parties have accepted Mnangagwa’s invitation, most notably the Movement for Democratic Change headed by Nelson Chamisa, who challenged Mnangagwa’s election victory in a constitutional court, and still disputes Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.
Political analyst Chipo Dendere of Wellesley College in Massachusetts in the United States, said while Mnangagwa’s speech lacked the strong language used by former President Mugabe in calling for the end of sanctions, and openly attacking the West, Mnangawa’s claim of progress on the economy was slightly exaggerated, as was the claim to protecting civil rights.
Mnangagwa’s address before the United Nations General Assembly comes at a time when the country’s police have filed a court application to prevent a doctor, Peter Magombeyi, who mysteriously disappeared last week, from leaving the country to seek treatment in South Africa. In protest over Magombeyi’s disappearance, doctors throughout the country had embarked on a nationwide strike that crippled the already fragile health care sector.
The country’s capital is also undergoing a water shortage, following an announcement by the city council that it had run out of treatment chemicals for the water, creating a potential health crisis.