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Mixed Feelings Over UN Rapporteur’s Sanctions Report

Opposition parties in the country have received with mixed feelings the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan’s report on the impact of sanctions  on Zimbabwe.

In the report, the envoy said Zimbabwe had been on sanctions for too long, hence it was difficult to decipher their impact as several factors needed to be taken into account.

“Unilateral sanctions, secondary sanctions and over-compliance in their complexity have exacerbated the pre-existing economic and humanitarian crisis, inhibiting the building of essential infrastructure and international and inter-institutional co-operation necessary for the achievement of the sustainable development goals,” part of the UN report read.

The UN accused Western countries of influencing her tour by allegedly threatening civic society organisations against meeting her.

“Although the special rapporteur had the opportunity to meet many representatives of independent civil society organisations and human rights defenders, she notes with regret that a substantial number of non-governmental organisations and some other interlocutors failed to engage with the mandate due to various hateful and intimidating messages that appeared in social media and news outlets, and an alleged fear of losing foreign donations,” the UN said in a statement yesterday.

However, MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti accused Douhan of being biased as he claimed she ignored the opposition views when she released her report mid-way into their meeting.

“We are shocked that the UN and Douhan released its statement in the middle of our consultation. We are the biggest political party in Zimbabwe and we consider such conduct fraudulent, unprofessional and predetermined,” Biti tweeted.

“As MDC Alliance, we had a meeting with the UN special rapporteur on coercive measures, Douhan, from 3pm to 5pm this (Wednesday) afternoon. She advised us that our views would be considered and that she would hold a Press conference and then issue a Press statement (on Thursday).”

The MDC Alliance delegation that met Douhan included Biti, party secretary-general Chalton Hwende, secretary for international relations Gladys Hlyatwayo and welfare secretary Maureen Kademaunga.

Ideas Party of Democracy (IPD) leader, Herbert Chamuka, however, was full of praise for the report but recommended that President Emmerson Mnangagwa should engage with the western countries

“We accept the final by the United Nations special rapporteur Alena Douhan which encourage the removal of sanctions.

“This is what we have been saying for a long time that President Emmerson Mnangagwa should dialogue with the Western countries so that they find ways to get the sanctions removed.

“When Mnangagwa came to power in 2017, he should have moved on from the former President, Robert Mugabe’s ways of doing things but as long as he continues to do what Mugabe used to do, then it will not change the stance on sanctions,” Chamuka said.

MDC-T president, Senator Douglas Mwonzora added his voice saying the report was balanced but bemoaned the impact of the sanctions on ordinary citizens.

MDC-T leader, Senator Douglas Mwonzora with the UN Special Envoy in Harare

“We are happy at the preliminary report of the UN Special Rapporteur for the removal of the sanctions. The sad reality is that these sanctions are making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Our late leader was clear that these sanctions were hurting the poor,” Mwonzora said.

In the report, Douhan acknowledged that the country was in deep problems which Zanu-PF alone could not solve, calling for meaningful dialogue between Harare and the West, opposition parties, civic organisations and other stakeholders.

A final report will be tabled at the UN Human Rights Commission in September 2020.

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