Tanzanian President John Magufuli today asked the Southern African Development Community to speak with one voice on sanctions on Zimbabwe which the country says is stifling its economic recovery.
Zimbabwe has been under United States sanctions for nearly two decades while the European Union has eased its sanctions on Harare but maintains them against former President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defence industries.
The EU still maintains an arms embargo and has suspended but not lifted sanctions on former service chiefs who include Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Lands Minister Perrance Shiri.
Addressing the 16-member organisation when he took over as SADC chairman Magufuli said sanctions on Zimbabwe were not only affecting Harare but the region as a whole.
“This brotherly country has been on sanctions and they have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe but the entire region,” he said.
“It is like a human body, if you chop one of its parts it affects the whole body. I would like to seize this opportunity to call upon the international community to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“This brotherly country has opened for new chapters. I believe it is in the interest of the country that these sanctions removed. I urge SADC member states to speak with one voice on the issue of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Some Zimbabweans would not agree with Magufuli that Zimbabwe has opened new chapters especially after yesterday’s crackdown on protesters who defied a court ruling to demonstrate against the deteriorating situation in the country.
Ironically Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa thanked regional leaders for their solidarity with the Zimbabwean people.
“To the regional leaders, their countries, citizens of Africa and to the international community, thank you for your solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe,” he tweeted.
“Ours is a peaceful and just cause, indeed a democratic struggle for a better, free and truly new Zimbabwe.”
He vowed to continue with the demonstrations which are scheduled for Bulawayo on Monday, Gweru on Tuesday, Masvingo on Wednesday and Mutare on Thursday.
“Going forward, Zimbabweans have no choice but to continue peacefully expression. All authority comes from the people as it is up them to assert it. ED has made the choice for you, remain steadfast in the face of violence and intolerance and keep fighting for your rights,” Chamisa, who has 537 000 followers, tweeted.
“In the days, weeks and months ahead, peaceful action is our force. To the people who will come out to express themselves we say it’s important to exercise your rights and to do so peacefully.
“We continue pray for the injured wishing them quick healing. We salute those incarcerated or charged on account of politics. Many of us have scars of the struggle. There will be many more. But this is not the time to give up. The seed of liberty is in our blood & expires not!”