Mnangagwa attends United Nations General Assembly

HARARE – The embattled Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa on Tuesday joined other Heads of State and Government in the virtual opening meeting of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The proceedings, which run from today to Saturday, are being held virtually for the first time in line with Covid-19 reduction procedures that have been put in place across the world.

In his address, according to State media, Mnangagwa is expected to take the opportunity to reiterate calls for the unconditional removal of illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country, resulting in untold suffering to citizens in the last two decades.

The sanctions were imposed after Zimbabwe embarked upon the irreversible land reform at the turn of the millennium. The United States imposed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001 on Harare, along with an Executive Order 13288 of March 2003, which has been renewed yearly, while the European Union introduced its own measures in February 2002, but lifted most of its embargoes in 2014.

Zidera effectively blocks Zimbabwe’s access to international finance and credit.

Under international law, international sanctions need to be authorised or imposed by the UN Security Council, which was never done in Zimbabwe’s case, making the sanctions illegal.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr Sibusiso Moyo, yesterday said: “As you are aware, it’s the same time every year that the whole world gathers in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. Every member of the United Nations including Zimbabwe attends.

“However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has not been possible and as a result of that, the United Nations General Assembly for the first is going to be held virtually and it is in this context that this week is a major week of activities about the United Nations debates, statements and all the other issues.”

Dr Moyo said besides the UN celebrating its 75th anniversary, it also aims to close the inequalities gap to achieve social justice, in line with this year’s theme.

“This resonates very well with the context and direction which President Mnangagwa and his Government are following,” he said.

The Second Republic has prioritised the provision of safety nets including payment of schools fees, providing subsidised roller meal and disbursements of cash transfers to the poor, especially now that many citizens have been hard hit by Covid-19.

Dr Moyo said apart from the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the UN, speakers including the Secretary-General, presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council, youth representatives and Heads of States, among others, are expected to deliver speeches.

The 75th session of the UN General Assembly opened on September 15, but the first day of the high-level general debate is today.

President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir said natural challenges ranging from climate calamity, loss of biodiversity, rising and escalating geopolitical tensions along with the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare the world’s fragilities which can only be addressed by unity among member states.

In his address to mark the 75th anniversary, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres called for unity among member states to enhance international cooperation and multilateralism.

The event also saw the adoption of the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United Nations meant to generate renewed support for multilateralism; an issue many believe has become ever more urgent as the world faces up to the COVID-19 pandemic.