President Robert Mugabe yesterday said he did not understand why Zimbabwe was placed under sanctions by the United States and the European Union 12 years ago.
His party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, said last year that the sanctions had cost the country US$42 billion. Zimbabwe was placed under sanctions ostensibly because of human rights violations but ZANU-PF has all along argued that they were imposed because of its land reform programme under which it forcibly took land from white farmers.
Addressing delegates to the Southern African Development Community summit in Victoria Falls at which he took over as chairman of the regional body, Mugabe thanked SADC for standing behind Zimbabwe and consistently calling for the removal of EU and United States sanctions, which he said were illegal because they were never sanctioned by the United Nations.
“We don’t understand why they have ever been imposed. To tell you the truth, we don’t. Neither does SADC understand. Without your support, we would not be standing on our feet today. We will remain eternally grateful for that. I say, once again, thank you SADC. We shall forever be grateful to Southern African countries for the sacrifices they made for Zimbabwe to be free.”
The EU has lifted all targeted sanctions at individuals and firms except Mugabe and his wife Grace and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries. It is expected to review bilateral aid on 1 November. The United States has refused to review its sanctions on Zimbabwe.