South Africa and the United States have traded barbs over the migrant crisis in the southern African economic hub which its president blames on American sanctions on Zimbabwe.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last Thursday called for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, which he said were exerting enormous pressure on his country, which is now saddled with an influx of migrants, mostly Zimbabweans.
“South Africa has always been very open to the inflow of people from various parts of the continent but, with the economic challenges that our people are now facing through unemployment and inequality, the pressure becomes even greater, not only on Zimbabwe’s economy, but also on a number of countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region,” Ramaphosa said.
“They are also having a negative effect on us because as the sanctions weaken the Zimbabwean economy, Zimbabweans migrate to our country and others in the sub-region – to Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and they exert enormous pressure on us.”
United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Jim Risch shot back, blaming South Africa for failing to provide leadership in the region, and its failure to hold Zimbabwean leaders to account.
“It’s not sanctioned individuals in Zimbabwe exerting pressure on South Africa, but a lack of regional leadership. South Africa must hold the Zim (Zimbabwean) government to its Constitution and help the Zimbabwean people achieve their democratic aspirations and corruption-free governance,” Risch tweeted.
Sadc designated October 25 as a day for solidarity against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States (US) nearly 20 years ago.
The United Kingdom imposed sanctions on five individuals – former Security minister Owen Ncube, Isaac Moyo, police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei, and former army commander Anselem Sanyatwe – after its divorce from the European Union in 2020 for human rights violations and “serious corruption.”
It also sanctioned the Zimbabwe Defence Industries and has claimed that the measures do not affect trade or economic development.
On the other hand, the US has imposed sanctions under its Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act since 2001 after violent land takeovers.