Strive Masiyiwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Strive Masiyiwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Strive Masiyiwa, the Zimbabwean telecommunications tycoon, has launched an appeal for help for Sudan and Zimbabwe to fight the coronavirus outbreak, after sanctions imposed on the countries cut them off from aid from multilateral organisations.

Masiyiwa, the founder of international mobile phone company Econet Wireless Group, said he had no personal contact with the leaders of Sudan and Zimbabwe before lodging the appeal with the institutions to raise funds for buying personal protective equipment and ventilators, and to pay for salaries and training. The two nations, under US sanctions, are excluded from debt relief.

“While I don’t want to get into the issues around how and why there are sanctions, everyone knows that I personally had to flee my country, Zimbabwe, because of persecution 20 years ago,” Masiyiwa said in a statement. “I have not been back since. For the avoidance of doubt, this is not an appeal for the lifting of sanctions.”

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral institutions should create humanitarian trusts for each country, which are managed by third parties, Masiyiwa said.

Sudan has in the past been accused by the US of sponsoring terrorism while Zimbabwe was sanctioned in the early 2000s amid accusations of state-sponsored human rights abuses and irregular elections. Zimbabwe’s economy has since collapsed.

Masiyiwa’s Higher Life Foundation, which he founded with his wife, Tsitsi, pays for the education of thousands of children in Zimbabwe and other African countries. He has also paid health workers in Zimbabwe when the government ran out of money.

Bloomberg