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Political Editor

SADC yesterday accused western countries of using sanctions against Zimbabwe to try and influence the outcome of next year’s elections.

The current chairperson of the regional body, Felix Tshisekedi, who is also the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, further implored the West to let Zimbabweans freely decide who they wanted in power.

“Sadc is committed to the consolidation of democracy in Southern Africa, and indeed, elsewhere in the world. Zimbabwe is expected to hold regular national elections in mid-2023.

“In this context, Sadc appeals to those who have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to give space to the citizens of the country to exercise their democratic rights and not use sanctions as a covert mechanism to effect regime change.

“Sadc is also committed to the spirit of multi-lateralism, and in this regard, notes that sanctions imposed against a fellow nation in the family of humanity must be made in accordance with international law,” Tshisekedi said in solidarity with Zimbabwe, and as the region commemorated Anti-Sanctions Day.

He added that sanctions were hurting the generality of Zimbabweans and not a few targeted individuals  accused of violating human rights by the West.

“Sadc is deeply concerned at the claim that the sanctions are of a ‘targeted nature’ and are aimed at unilaterally punishing a few individuals.

“The reality is that there is a spill-over and contagion effect on the rest of the country, in particular by imposing a blanket negative perception about Zimbabwe across the world, in particular in the sensitive global financial markets.

“This perception results in the country being unable to attract much-needed foreign direct investment, lines of credit and other financial services that are essential to the socio-economic development of the country.

“This is more concerning given the need for rapid global recovery from at least two years of the socially and economically crippling Covid-19 pandemic which has now been compounded by a general rise in inflation across the world,” Tshisekedi said further.

He also said Sadc welcomed the report last year by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan, on the negative impact of sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights in the country.

“Sadc fully supports the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur that sanctions, including secondary sanctions and different forms of over-compliance by foreign banks and companies, have had a significant impact on the population and the government, exacerbating pre-existing economic and humanitarian challenges,” he added.

This comes after the United States of America acknowledged the disruptions that its measures had imposed on investors wishing to invest in Zimbabwe.

Speaking during a press briefing last week, US Department of State sanctions coordinator, Ambassador James O’Brien, said businesses were finding it difficult to invest in Zimbabwe.

“We are aware that because of the depth of the problems and the duration of this programme (sanctions), there are probably a lot of companies who believe that doing business in Zimbabwe is just too difficult — and that does cost opportunities for the people of Zimbabwe.

“Whether that’s the result of the underlying mismanagement and corruption, or whether our sanctions add to it, that’s something we are willing to talk with companies about, because we do want legitimate businesses to be able to do legitimate business in places.

“We are not engaged in a comprehensive effort to close the Zimbabwean economy. We don’t sanction banks. We aren’t stopping certain kinds of transactions,” O’Brien said then.

In September, the USA criticised the government for allegedly not giving opposition parties enough liberty to campaign ahead of next year’s national elections, while also adding to its sanctions list police deputy commissioner general, Stephen Mutamba, on the accusation that he was undermining Zimbabwe’s democratic processes.

Also in September, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa met with his US counterpart Joe Biden in Washington, where he raised the issue of the sanctions on Zimbabwe — saying that these had also negatively affected neighbouring countries, amid economic migrants being forced to leave the country in large numbers for opportunities elsewhere. – Daily News