Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses a press conference in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, March 17, 2020. In an update to the nation on Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared COVID-19 a national disaster, saying that the country had escalated its national response to the virus after neighboring countries in the region had reported cases. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday thanked China and Russia for standing by Zimbabwe in its consistent call for the unconditional removal of Western sanctions.

In a speech to mark the Southern African Development Community (SADC) anti-sanctions day, Mnangagwa paid tribute to the two countries, SADC, the African Union, and other countries around the globe for their support.

“The People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, among other nations, have been our dependable pillars for many years,” said the president.

“These nations not only assisted us in our fight for independence, but equally assisted us to defend our sovereignty against the sustained onslaught by our detractors,” Mnangagwa said.

He also thanked the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet for adding their voice on sanctions removal. Mnangagwa commended the European Union (EU) for taking some positive steps towards normalizing relations with Zimbabwe.

Last year, the SADC declared Oct. 25 as the regional anti-sanctions day, on which SADC member states would collectively call for unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa said the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act and Executive Orders by the U.S. government have constrained development in Zimbabwe for nearly 20 years. “The cumulative effect of these illegal sanctions has been devastating in every sector of our economy.

Furthermore, sanctions have limited Zimbabwe’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mnangagwa said. “We are grateful to those nations and organizations who have stood by us and supported us in fighting the pandemic,” he added.

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