HARARE – Zimbabwe’s new parliament building finally opened for business of the house Wednesday with President Emmerson Mnangagwa delivering a State of the Nation Address (SONA) that was loaded with self-praise for policies undertaken and a lot of promises to remedy the country’s dire economic situation.
In his address, Mnangagwa said his administration has adopted a robust foreign policy to end international isolation highlighted by Western sanctions imposed nearly two decades ago.
Mnangagwa said his government’s reengagement efforts with the international community were bearing fruit and the need to lift sanctions being high on his priorities.
“Zimbabwe’s foreign policy of Engagement and Re-engagement, as well as our thrust to be a ‘friend to all and an enemy to none’ continues to bear fruit,” he said in an address that coincided with the official opening of the 5th session of the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe.
“Our diplomatic missions have been re-focussed towards economic diplomacy and diaspora engagement to attract investment and mutually beneficial partnerships.
“The need for the unconditional removal of sanctions, which have constrained socio-economic growth for decades, remains urgent and imperative.”
Mnangagwa’s comments dovetail with the Commonwealth delegation’s recent comments that Zimbabwe had made “very impressive” conditions in meeting conditions to rejoin the 56-nations international alliance.
Western nations, including the United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe after the Robert Mugabe administration pursued the chaotic land reform it justified as addressing the economic ills of colonialism.
Over the years, the United States and Western nations have maintained the imposed restrictive measures, citing human rights violations, election rigging, and rampant state corruption.
Mnangagwa’s administration has gone into overdrive to demand the unconditional removal the sanctions, enlisting the support of SADC allies and other African nations.
In 2019, the Zimbabwean government paid a US firm $500,000 to lobby for the removal of sanctions that it claims are impeding economic growth.
This is despite Western nations’ claims that the sanctions target individuals and companies guilty of human rights violations and rampant corruption.
During his State of the Nation Address, Mnangagwa praised regional bodies and other world leaders for campaigning against sanctions, emphasizing that Zimbabwe’s invitation to the US-Africa summit was a significant step towards sanctions relief.
“We are grateful to AU, SADC and other world leaders who made similar calls during the 77th United Nations General Assembly.
“Our country welcomes the invitation to attend the US-Africa Summit in December, 2022 and emphasis remains on dialogue and multilateralism as the best option to resolve today’s global challenges,” said Mnangagwa.
Sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe continue to divide public opinion, with some believing they are targeted sanctions that are not impeding the country’s growth and others believing sanctions are primarily to blame for the country’s economic woes.