President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe saying they were affecting ordinary people in the southern African country.
“The sanctions that are applied against Zimbabwe should also be lifted as they are imposing untold suffering on ordinary Zimbabweans, but also have a collateral negative impact on neighbouring countries as well, such as my own country, South Africa,” said Ramaphosa.
He was addressing the United Nations General Assembly.
Ramaphosa said the sanctions in Zimbabwe were impacting neighbouring countries as Zimbabweans flock in search of opportunities.
The Western powers imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe more than 20 years ago when the late former president Robert Mugabe was still in charge.
When Emmerson Mnangagwa took over as president a few years ago the sanctions were not lifted.
Ramaphosa’s call at the UN came as the European Union (EU) was pulling its funding of $5 million (around R94.7m) to the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) over concerns raised by observer missions that the recent polls in that country did not meet international standards.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Observer Mission was the first to raise concerns about the elections in Zimbabwe.
Other international observer missions also said the elections did not meet democratic standards.
But this was dismissed by the government of Zimbabwe.
The EU said they were concerned about how the ZEC managed the elections.
“The recent preliminary statements from multiple (electoral observer missions), including the EU (observer mission), have raised concerns about the ZEC’s management of the electoral process, particularly regarding its independence and transparency,” said the EU.
“The EU contributes together with other donors to a UNDP-managed project aiming at enhancing ZEC’s institutional and technical capabilities to fulfil its constitutional mandate,“ it said.
“In response to these concerns and in adherence to responsible management of EU development and cooperation funds, the EU has initiated a procedure to suspend its contribution to this project.”
It added that electoral bodies must deliver elections that are credible.