Where is Multilateralism?

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By Eunice Masunungure

ONCE again the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly was a platform for US posturing with the country’s President Donald Trump unfairly lambasting China and blaming it for the spread of COVID-19.

Due to COVID-19 this year’s assembly was virtual meeting.

The meeting was held under the theme; “The future we want; the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism — confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action.”

In his remarks, the African Union (AU) chairman and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated the call for the removal of illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe.

This is an important issue that the US has continued to ignore hoping that the embargo would suffocate the nation.

President Ramaphosa called on the international community to provide a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries.

Said President Ramaphosa:

“This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of COVID-19 but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies.

“To ensure that no country is left behind, we reiterate our position as the African Union that economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan should be lifted to allow their governments to respond adequately to the pandemic.” 

The sanctions against Zimbabwe have been in existence for the past two decades following the historic Land Reform and Resettlement Programme.

Although the Government of Zimbabwe has been championing re-engagement with the Western world and international financial institutions from which she has been estranged, the US and its allies have remained negative towards the country.

The West, especially the US, continues its false reportage on Zimbabwe and turns a blind eye on the comprehensive reforms the Zimbabwean Government is implementing; including the re-engagement initiatives, ongoing inclusive dialogue, chiefly characterised by the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), zero tolerance to corruption and the compensation of land-redistribution-affected farmers set on course with the signing of the Global Compensation Deed on July 29 2020.

Zimbabwe is excelling in combating corruption as evidenced by the high profile arrests and convictions of senior serving and former Government officials. Recently former governor and resident minister of Midlands Jason Machaya was jailed for criminal abuse of office.

What exactly is Zimbabwe expected to do to gain favour from the international community?

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the West had guts to politicise and weaponise the virus against Zimbabwe.

Several developing countries received help from the World Bank  and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to strengthen their pandemic response, increase disease surveillance, improve public health interventions but Zimbabwe was excluded.

Zimbabwe is excluded from benefitting from financing packages from  multilateral lenders like IMF, World Bank and AFDB. 

While it is argued that there are no harsh conditions attached to emergency funding, the real facts on the ground reveal that Zimbabwe is excluded and has to do without any support.

Zimbabwe did not benefit from, for example, the April 2 2020 Bretton woods institutions pledge to support individual African countries to fight COVID-19 pandemic.

The so called “emergency support to 30 countries across Africa” softened the blow of the pandemic elsewhere and not in Zimbabwe. 

This underlines the loopholes in the so-called global solidarity.

Continual pressing of sanctions on Zimbabwe means that the values of solidarity have been eroded.

The so-called watchers of human rights do not hesitate to violate the human rights spelled in the United Nations Charter and International Law.

President Ramaphosa told the UN General assembly that Africa responded swiftly to the pandemic but resources diverted to fight the pandemic had set back the continent’s ability to provide safe water, health, housing and education.

A number of leaders addressed the General Assembly, including Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, China’s Xi Jinping, Chile’s Sebastian Pinera among, others.

President Xi said defeating the Covid-19 pandemic required global cooperation saying, “Any attempt of politicising the issue and stigmatisation should be rejected”.

Among other things, he said China would avail to the world, especially developing and African countries, the vaccines and other medicines that it is currently developing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, for all the talk of oneness, countries like the US continue to bully the UN and other international institutions to do their bidding.

Zimbabwe has suffered from misrepresentations by countries such as the US.

African countries and other progressive nations must be reminded that Zimbabwe is not a problem state but a victim of exclusion, vengeance, revenge and Western greed.

If world meetings are to ever be fruitful, there is need to do away with  misrepresentations and exclusions.

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