Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa pleaded with the West to remove economic sanctions on the Southern African country.
Mnangagwa made the called while addressing the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.
The Zimbabwe president said that the embargo, which was imposed at the turn of the century after Zimbabwe embarked on land reforms, was not only holding back economic development but also a violation of human rights.
The EU and the U.S. imposed targeted sanctions on the country, ostensibly to push for adherence to the rule of law and human rights in Zimbabwe, among other reasons.
The sanctions, which include trade restrictions and withdrawal of bilateral and multilateral financial support, are estimated to have cost the country nearly 100 billion dollars.
Mnangagwa, who took over the presidency from the late Robert Mugabe in 2017, said that the country wanted to open a new leaf and improve relations with all nations so that it would re-integrate into the global family of nations.
Official news agency New Ziana reported on Thursday that the Zimbabwe leader said that his government was now more focused on reviving the economy and development in general, but that its efforts were being constrained by the West’s longstanding sanctions.
“Zimbabwe is in transition and determined to overcome the reality that we were a collapsed economy with a collapsed currency, due to the illegal economic sanctions imposed on our economy.
“Since I took over the leadership of Zimbabwe, much has been accomplished with indicative recovery, stabilisation, and growth.
“These achievements are in spite of the albatross of the illegal economic sanctions. These sanctions constitute a denial of the human rights of the people of Zimbabwe to develop and improve their quality of life.
“Furthermore, the sanctions are slowing down our progress, inhibiting our economic recovery and punishing the poorest and most vulnerable,” he said.
He listed what he said were some of the achievements the country had recorded across the board since he took over, as budget surplus and wide-ranging economic and political reforms.
He added that much more could have been realised had the country not been burdened by sanctions.
Mnangagwa lauded the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, among others, for standing in solidarity with Zimbabwe over the sanctions.
SADC in August resolved to collectively help Zimbabwe and dedicated October 25 this year as a day to collectively call for the removal of sanctions.
“My country applauds the SADC, the AU and all, who stand with us in demanding the immediate and unconditional removal of these illegal sanctions.
“Those that imposed illegal sanctions must heed this call and lift them now.
“ Co-operation is a win-win game. Sanctions are a lose-lose game. Zimbabwe deserves a re-start,” Mnangagwa said.
He said that in spite of the challenges that the sanctions and other factors such as drought posed, the government was pressing ahead with efforts to normalise the economy, build and re-build new and old bridges with other countries.
“The task facing us is great. The road is long, winding, and at times bumpy. But so is our potential and determination to succeed,” he said.