The Herald, Zimbabwe’s largest newspaper in Harare, the capital, published the following editorial on March 27 commenting on the COVID-19 pandemic and sanctions.
With the coronavirus pandemic escalating every second and reaching unprecedented levels globally, it is no time to play political games with people’s lives.
The big brother mentality on the global political arena will not help us find socioeconomic solutions to the threats we are witnessing globally.
As Zimbabwe, a country that has paid a heavy price because of sanctions imposed by Britain, the U.S. and its Western allies, we gladly welcome an appeal which was issued this week [March 24] by the United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General António Guterres calling for the lifting of sanctions on the country.
Guterres is right by urging powerful countries that have imposed punitive sanctions on Zimbabwe, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and other countries to lay aside their hate and other destabilizing measures in support of the bigger battle against Covid-19, “the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind.”
The removal of the crippling sanctions will no doubt give the affected countries room to implement measures at many touchpoints at very short notice to save lives.
Covid-19 came as a shock to an unprepared world.
It is scary, challenging and demanding.
This is not the time to play with people’s lives. Humanity matters regardless of race, creed, class, power, political ideology or other socioeconomic considerations.
Global polarization will not help humanity. Zimbabwe, Africa and the world need solidarity more than ever to help support the vulnerable in our midst.
Sanctions are a huge barrier for Zimbabwe and other sanctions-hit countries to access essential medical supplies required to fight the pandemic.
Our health care system is fragile and the continued existence of sanctions has severe implications on Zimbabwe’s health emergency preparedness and response strategies.
Guterres aptly sums it: “This is the time for solidarity, not exclusion. . . . Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world.”
We commend Guterres for speaking out against sanctions.
The world right now has very few revolutionary firebrands of earlier times and extraordinary political figures that can speak for the downtrodden and the oppressed Global South.
And, when an influential figures speak out boldly against sanctions, it is encouraging and it gives the affected countries some hope.
The continued imposition of sanctions by Britain, the U.S. and its allies is essentially irresponsible, particularly now when Covid-19 is killing people at a rate unseen in over a century.
More than 472,000 people around the world have been diagnosed with Covid-19, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
More than 114,000 have recovered, while more than 21,000 people have died.
The figures are soaring every second.
It’s a vicious virus that knows [no] nationality or ethnicity, or other differences between people. It attacks everyone and relentlessly — rich or poor.
We all know that it is the most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized, displaced and refugees — who pay the highest price when sanctions are imposed on other weaker countries.
It brings untold hardships, devastating losses and the collapse of the health care delivery system when epidemics such as Covid-19 attack us.
The U.N. has just launched an appeal for $2 billion in international humanitarian aid to help poorer countries tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
And any attempts to prevent countries such as Zimbabwe and Iran to access the assistance will be grossly inhuman and uncalled for.
There is no justification for the continued existence of sanctions by the U.S., Britain and its Western allies on Zimbabwe.
All that the sanctions have done for the past decade or so has been to cause suffering for innocent people.
Sanctions have now come to be abused as a tool to subject weaker nations to the whims of powerful countries.
We all are seeing the pain and misery brought by sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Iran, North Korea and Cuba. Sanctions have hit Zimbabwe in all sectors hard.
They have massively hit our manufacturing, commodities, agriculture, trade and finance, social services with consequences for all aspects of ordinary life.
Sanctions are counterproductive and will not help solve the pressing problems in Zimbabwe.
If anything, lifting them will help bring Zimbabwe back to the family of nations and put it firmly on the path to recovery and growth.