Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe is an act of cowardice and those behind the economic restrictions should lift them, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said yesterday.
Officially opening the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo yesterday, President Museveni unequivocally called for the removal of the illegal Western-imposed sanctions, which have been blamed for frustrating economic recovery efforts.
“On behalf of Uganda, I want to condemn the sanctions, imposed on Zimbabwe for such a long time. This idea of sanctions is cowardice,” said President Museveni.
Zimbabwe was slapped with illegal sanctions by Britain and her allies at the turn of the millennium after the country embarked on a successful land reform programme as part of efforts to correct the skewed land ownership which favoured the minority whites. The country as a result cannot acces lines of credit making it difficult to operate a modern economy.
“Why do you put sanctions if somebody is wrong, leave him. He will be failed by their mistakes. Why do you have to put sanctions if you know you are right and somebody is wrong. That means you are not sure that one is wrong? Otherwise if you are sure that this one is wrong, why don’t you let him fail by his own mistakes,” President said.
He appealed for the immediate lifting of sanctions which are frustrating efforts to turnaround the economy.
He recalled how in the 1950s and 60s there was a dangerous confrontation between the East and the West and at some stage the leaders from the two fronts met and decided what they called peaceful competition as opposed to confrontation.
The Ugandan leader said Africa should work in unison to fight the imposition of illegal sanctions on any of its member states.
“However, it is also the fate of Africa because we don’t work together very closely, had we been working closely, if somebody imposes sanctions on one of us, we were supposed to be able to impose counter sanctions on him. That’s what China does. When somebody imposes sanctions on China, China imposes counter sanctions.
Here we have got an equation, which is not balanced. Sanctions are one-sided forever and ever.
“I don’t agree with those who said that ‘Africans are too weak to work together’. In the 1960s we were much weaker than we are today, but we were able to work together and support the struggle for freedom of Southern Africa under the OAU which united our position.”
Cde Museveni said Zimbabwe played a pivotal role supporting the struggle for freedom in Southern Africa, notably the struggle for freedom in South Africa among others.
“Even here, I think if we discuss closely and commit, we can have more impact on the global stage. I am glad to be here because when I was here in 1989 Uganda was a nightmare. Christians believe, and I am one of them, that Jesus died, was buried and resurrected after three days.
“Uganda died was buried and resurrected also. When I came here in 1989, Uganda had just resurrected. I think it was on a Monday because Jesus resurrected on Sunday, so this was on Monday when we came out of the nightmare,” he said.
Before Uganda emerged from the woods, President Museveni said it went through difficult times, which saw the living standard of the ordinary people falling.
“In 1986, there was no sugar, no soap . . . virtually nothing. All those items called essentials were being smuggled into the country from other countries. But today Uganda is much, much better,” he said.
President Museveni urged Zimbabweans to soldier on and remain resilient despite the prevailing economic challenges saying the dark phase will pass.
Under the new political administration led by President Mnangagwa, the country is seeking to turnaround its fortunes guided by the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) as it works towards its long term Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy. — @okazunga.