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Zimbabwe leader tells UN that sanctions hurt development

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Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on as he arrives ahead of the inauguration of incumbent South African President on May 25, 2019 at Loftus Versveld stadium in Pretoria. (Photo by SIPHIWE SIBEKO / POOL / AFP)


Zimbabwe’s leader on Thursday appealed at the United Nations for support to end Western sanctions, saying that they set back development goals.

In an address to the UN General Assembly, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pointed to a recent UN report that found a negative impact from sanctions on Zimbabwe as a whole.

“These are a breach of international law and compromise Zimbabwe’s capacity to implement and achieve Sustainable Development Goals,” including the eradication of hunger, he said.

“We, therefore, call on the General Assembly to strongly pronounce itself against these unilateral illegal sanctions,” he said.

Zimbabwe has faced Western sanctions since the early 2000s but they have been focused primarily on the leaders, accusing them of corruption and gross mismanagement of an economy that has seen eye-boggling inflation rates.

But a report in November by the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, said that sanctions contributed to a poor climate for business and investment.

“These economic sanctions worsen the existing inequalities and do not have any actual impact on their supposed targets,” she wrote in the report, which found that 60 percent of Zimbabweans were food insecure.

Mnangagwa took over in 2017 following the ouster of veteran leader Robert Mugabe — who was known for his caustic denunciations of the West in fora such as the UN General Assembly.

But brief hopes for an improvement of relations subsided as Zimbabwean authorities under Mnangagwa have violently suppressed protests.


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