Southern Africa Leaders Call for End to Zimbabwe Sanctions

Demonstrators sit and sing protest songs after police cordoned off the street in Harare, on Aug. 16.
Photographer: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images

Southern Africa leaders called for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe, where more than 120 people were arrested last week in protests sparked by an economic crisis.

Southern African Development Community nations will collectively voice their disapproval of the sanctions on Oct. 25, and ask the international community to support an economic recovery in Zimbabwe, the SADC said in a statement after a meeting in the Tanzanian commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was among heads of state that joined Tanzania’s leader, John Magufuli, for the summit.

Zimbabwe is still subject to U.S. sanctions that date back to the reign of former President Robert Mugabe who was ousted in late 2017 after 38 years in power. The country is already reeling from annual inflation that hit 176% in June, the highest globally after Venezuela. Authorities won’t release annual figures for six months until February, although persistent shortages of fuel and bread suggest inflation hasn’t waned.

Zimbabwean police fired teargas to disperse crowds of supporters of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, in the capital, Harare on Friday. The police barred the party from staging another protest on Monday in the nation’s second-largest city of Bulawayo.

READ: Zimbabwe Police Arrests 128 Demonstrators in Opposition Protest

Other summit highlights;

  • Tanzanian authorities questioned activists hours before the summit, preventing them from making any demonstration about what they allege are deteriorating human-rights conditions in the host country.
  • The SADC will work with other countries in the region to fight an emerging threat of terrorism in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for an attack that left three people dead in the country’s eastern town of Beni in April.
  • The bloc said it will take measures to boost food production after recurring droughts that hit the 2018-19 harvest.
    • NOTE: The SADC is made up of 16 members including Angola, Botswana, Union of Comoros, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.