Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Dr. David MUSABAYANA has called upon members of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) to lobby for the lifting of economic sanctions against the Republic of Zimbabwe.

In a detailed presentation to the PAP’s Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution in Midrand on the first day of the Sitting of Permanent Committees, Deputy Minister MUSABAYANA shared the dire economic consequences of the imposed sanctions by the United States and the European Union since 2001.

PAP Vice President, Hon. Chief Fortune CHARUMBIRA said the Committee would table the issue at the next ordinary session of the PAP in May 2020, following today’s deliberations.

The Southern African Caucus first raised the issue on 25 October 2019 calling on the International Community to lift the sanctions, when a motion was raised by a Member of the South African Parliament, Hon. Amos MASONDO.

“It was decided to move the matter to even higher dimensions by adding it to the order paper for the May session. The committee is now tasked with this as an agenda item for the May Plenary Session,” said Hon Charumbira.

Hon. Yeremia CHIHANA, Malawian MP, Rapporteur of the Southern African Caucus and also Member of the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs says economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa, are having detrimental effects on trade in the SADC region.

According to Minister Musabayana, Zimbabwe has lost more than US$42 billion in revenue in the past two decades. At the hand of sanctions, the country has suffered a decline of US$21 billion in GDP, lost US$12 billion in loans from the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and another US$18 billion in commercial bank loans.

Loan inflows to companies rose from US$134 million in 1980 to US$480 million in the 1990s, and then plummeted to $80 million between 2000 and 2008, following the sanctions.

“Zimbabweans have not seen any of the gains from foreign remittances as witnessed by other African countries, largely because money transfer companies (MTCs) cannot transact with Zimbabweans,” said Minister Musabayana.

He highlighted the economic ripple-effect of sanctions on the agriculture, natural resources, energy, tourism and infrastructure sectors.

According to the Minister, economic sanctions infringe upon Zimbabwe’s right to economic and social development and violate Article 41 of the UN Charter.

“Sanctions are not affecting the elite, but the most vulnerable of the country’s population,” said Minister Musabayana, citing further figures on the suspension of foreign aid, a decline in health services and Zimbabwe’s rise in infant mortality from 70/1,000 to 132/1,000 by 2005.

“Marginalised vulnerable groups are sinking deeper into poverty. In 2011, 72.3% of all Zimbabweans were considered poor,” he continued.

To tackle these challenges, the Zimbabwean Government is actively working towards reform and is engaging internally with political actors, re-entering into dialogue with the West, and opening invitations to UN rapporteurs to observe activities in the country.

During the Minister’s presentation, members of the Committee responded with questions and highlighted the need for a strategic policy to fight economic crises, sanctions and embargoes in African countries suffering as much fate as Zimbabwe, such as Libya.

Some members called upon a parliamentary fact-finding mission to speed up matters related to economic sanctions in Africa.

The session was also attended by the Ambassador of Zimbabwe to South Africa, H.E David HAMADZIRIPI who expressed his support to the lifting of economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution comprises 34 members who undertook missions in 2019 to Egypt, Niger and Mauritania, among others, to advance peace and security on the continent. It is chaired by Hon. Kone Aboubacar SIDIKI.

In opening the day’s agenda, Hon. Sidiki recognised the work of the Committee in 2019, specifically around election observations, but urged committee members that a lot remains to be done in Africa to achieve the objective of silencing the guns by 2020.