Zimbabwe’s President, Emerson Mnangagwa has blamed what he called illegal sanctions imposed by the West for his country’s misfortunes and economic downturn.
He made the remarks at an event organized in Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo to celebrate the country’s 42 years of independence from colonial rule.
Despite his acknowledgment of this drawback, President Mnangagwa committed to reversing the negative impact of the sanctions, especially in critical areas like health.
“The right to life is sacred and guaranteed through a sound health delivery system. In spite of the devastating impact of the illegal and unjustified economic sanctions on our health delivery system and other social services, we are not burying our heads in the sand. We are certainly moving forward,” he says.
He also adds that two years of Covid-19 disruptions widened the gaps. He then went ahead to congratulate his government for its handling of Covid-19.
“The National Response Strategy to the Covid-19 pandemic is but a small testament of the value my administration places on the life of each and every Zimbabwean. Hence, the delivery of Universal Health Coverage remains a priority area for this government,” says Mnangagwa who is up for reelection in 2023.
Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries that was able to invest its own resources in accessing Covid-19 vaccines. In addition to his government’s perceived success in the fight against Covid-19, the President also explained key milestones being achieved, with Zimbabwe recording a reduction in maternal mortality.
According to the President, the number of women dying in childbirth reduced due to the government’s significant investment in health infrastructure.
“More health facilities are being constructed, rehabilitated, and modernized from the districts upwards to enhance accessibility and convenience to the general populace. The resuscitation of the pharmaceutical sector through the deployment of various research and development initiatives at innovation hubs, is being speeded up,” says the President whose Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has been in power since 1980.
Mnangagwa who became president in November 2017, after the army deposed independence leader, Robert Mugabe in a coup, expressed optimism in the country’s efforts for creating a better life for Zimbabweans.
“In the midst of great adversity and difficulties such as the illegal economic sanctions, our country has a lot to be proud of. Equally, invaluable lessons have been learned which will make our actions more targeted for coordinated and balanced development,” he says.
The European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe were first imposed in 2002, in relation to the escalation of violence and intimidation of political opponents and the harassment of the independent press.
The sanctions included an arms embargo, as well as an asset freeze and targeted asset freezes and travel bans.
Having opted to get out of the European Union, the United Kingdom readopted Zimbabwe (Sanctions) Regulations 2019 in January 2021. The aim of the sanctions is to encourage Zimbabwe’s government and any person or entity who may be involved in human rights abuses to respect democratic principles and institutions and the rule of law.
But helped by the change in government from Mugabe to Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe has been fighting back and has managed to mobilize support against the sanctions.
In October 2019, leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed to campaign for the removal of the sanctions, arguing that they destabilize Zimbabwe’s economy and adversely affect the region.
However, opposition leaders and the greater part of the populace believe the sorry state of the economy is due to bad governance and corruption.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa has paid homage to the many trade unionists and nationalists who in the 1950s launched confrontation with the brutal white settler regime, from bases within townships such as Pelandaba, Mzilikazi, Luveve, Mbare, Highfields, Sakubva, Mtapa, and Mucheke.
According to the President, the trade unionists and nationalists underscored the fact that the nation is emboldened by their bravery and selfless sacrifices that epitomize a rich liberation heritage they left for citizens.
In light of the sacrifices made by Zimbabwe’s forefathers, President Mnangagwa called for unity in a country torn apart by hardship and political discontent.
“As a diverse but one nation that is united under one National Flag, we reaffirm and reinforce our unity, love, and harmony for one another and for our great country. We refuse to be divided. The cords that bind us are much stronger than any differences which we may ever encounter,” he says.
The President adds that in unity, Zimbabwe is going to rise and no one and no place shall be left behind.
“As we march forward toward our vision of a prosperous and empowered upper-middle-income country by 2030 our country has a lot to be proud of,” he says.
The celebrations are historic in that they are the first in which the main commemorations are being held outside the capital city of Harare.