The Southern African Development Community (SADC) reiterated its call for the unconditional and immediate lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean individuals and institutions.
In a statement on Tuesday, Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, who is also the bloc's Chairperson, noted that the sanctions were impeding socio-economic development in Zimbabwe.
The statement comes as the Southern African country marks Anti-Sanctions Day, a day set aside to rally the world to remove the sanctions placed against Zimbabwe.
"The reality is that there is a spill-over and contagion effect on the rest of the country, in particular by imposing a blanket negative perception about Zimbabwe across the world, in particular in the sensitive global financial markets," Tshisekedi said.
The DR Congo president also pointed out that Zimbabwe needs to fast track recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had crippled the country's economy.
He stressed that the sanctions create a negative perception of Zimbabwe, which results in the country being unable to attract much needed foreign direct investment, lines of credit, and other financial services that are essential to the socio-economic development of the country.
The SADC chair noted that Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold its national elections in mid-2023 and warned foreign actors not to use sanctions to manipulate a leadership change.
"SADC appeals to those who have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to give space to the citizens of the country to exercise their democratic rights and not use sanctions as a covert mechanism to effect regime change," President Tshisekedi said.