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The problem with SADC's 'brotherly' stance on Zimbabwe sanctions

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Following a decision made in August by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat, the body's 16 member states are expected to organise simultaneous activities on October 25 to show solidarity with Zimbabwe and demonstrate their disapproval of sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union and the United States.

Zimbabwe is still subject to sanctions that date back to the reign of former President Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in late 2017 after 38 years in power. The EU sanctions consist of an arms embargo and targeted asset freezes and travel bans, while the US has imposed financial restrictions and travel sanctions against selected individuals and entities.

Following Mugabe's ousting, a swift return to democracy and consequent lifting of sanctions were expected. Mugabe's successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, however, proved to be a far more brutal leader than him. Under his watch, anti-government protests stemming from an ever-deepening economic crisis have been repressed with unprecedented force. In August 2018 and January 2019, for example, soldiers reportedly killed and raped scores of unarmed civilians participating in peaceful anti-government demonstrations.

In response, the US and the EU extended the sanctions they previously imposed on the country and vowed to keep all sanctions in place until Mnangagwa's government allows protests and changes laws that restrict media freedoms.

SADC, nevertheless, claims the "illegal sanctions" have "an adverse impact on the economy of Zimbabwe and the region at large", and calls for their immediate lifting to facilitate "socioeconomic recovery in the country". Were it genuine, SADC's public concern for the wellbeing of ordinary Zimbabweans would be welcome and much appreciated. However, SADC is lobbying........

© Al Jazeera