USA, New York – Newly installed Kenyan president William Ruto has joined seemingly unyielding calls by his African peers to have western imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe lifted unconditionally.
In his inaugural address to the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, Ruto said sanctions undermined Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and impoverished ordinary citizens.
“There might never be a more opportune time to revisit the practice of unilateral coercive actions, which often violate fundamental tenets of a rule-based international order, such as those imposed on Zimbabwe and Cuba,” Ruto said.
“Apart from undermining the sovereign equality of nations, they also indiscriminately punish the general citizenry, reserving their bitterest sting for innocent hustlers and the vulnerable.
“This compounds injustice and worsens suffering.”
Ruto was joined in his calls by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who also reiterated his demands to have the controversial measures against his country’s troubled neighbour scrapped unconditionally.
Ramaphosa, who was being represented in his UN address by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, said sanctions have had ripple effects in the form of a regional migration crisis.
“We call for an end to unilateral coercive measures against Zimbabwe which have compounded the problems experienced by the people of Zimbabwe and have a detrimental effect on the broader Southern African region,” Ramaphosa said.
The US 2001 imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on former Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe and a select few members of his administration who included some security commanders for allegedly undermining democracy.
Europe, led by Zimbabwe’s former colonial master Britain, also joined the US in imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The countries have gradually relaxed their measures but insist on compliance with certain democratic demands by Zimbabwean authorities before they could lift the sanctions.
South Africa, seen as the region’s de facto leader by virtue of its strong democracy and economy, has been accused of blindly chorusing the scrapping of sanctions while ignoring gross human rights violations and institutionalised corruption under the Zanu PF led government.
Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Zimbabwe number 157 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries with the highest number representing the most corrupt country.
Government argues sanctions were imposed by former allies as punishment for the country’s decision to repossess tracts of arable land which had been in the hands of a minority white Zimbabweans of European descent.