Ramaphosa calls on the West to remove Zimbabwean economic sanctions




Ramaphosa said it was of great concern that the global community had not sustained the principles of solidarity and cooperation in securing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. Picture: Edgar Su, Reuters.

NEW YORK – South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has today called for the lifting of illegal sanctions imposed by the West on Zimbabwe saying they are crippling the country’s economy.

“We call for the lifting of the sanctions that paralyse Zimbabwe and its economy,” said President Ramaphosa in his address to the United Nations General Assembly’s 76th session.

President Ramaphosa’s call comes as SADC prepares to commemorate the SADC Anti-Sanctions Solidarity day set for October 25.

Speaking during this week’s post-Cabinet media briefing, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said that the anti-sanctions drive by SADC as a region over the past two years has rallied more support for the country, even from non-SADC countries.

Ramaphosa also lamented the ongoing Covid-19 vaccine “apartheid” which has seen the world’s wealthiest countries hoarding the lifesaving drugs while poorer nations have inoculated a very small percentage of their citizens.

Speaking at the 76th annual United Nations General Assembly, Ramaphosa said it was of great concern that the global community had not sustained the principles of solidarity and cooperation in securing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Ramaphosa said it was generally accepted that vaccines were the greatest defence that humanity had against the pandemic.

“It is an indictment on humanity that more than 82 percent of the world’s vaccine doses have been acquired by wealthy countries, while less than one per cent has gone to low-income countries,” Ramaphosa said.

“Unless we address this as a matter of urgency, the pandemic will last much longer and new mutations of the virus will spread and emerge.

“South Africa reaffirms its call for fair and equitable distribution of vaccines.

“We urge all member states to support the proposal for a temporary waiver of certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights at the World Trade Organization to allow more countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries, to produce Covid-19 vaccines.“

TRIPS – the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights – protects manufacturers’ patents against copying. South Africa and India have been campaigning hard since last October for a TRIPS waiver on the manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines.

South Africa and India have won the support of more than 100 countries for a TRIPS waiver.

Yesterday, US President Joe Biden announced a donation of more than 1 billion doses of vaccines to low-income countries worldwide.

Ramaphosa said that in this interconnected world, no country was safe until every country was safe.

“We need to prepare now for future pandemics and work with greater determination towards the goal of universal health coverage.”