Of Sanctions & Church Protests At the US Embassy

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On the 4th of March, the United States President Donald Trump renewed sanctions against Zanu PF and military officials as well as some state-owned companies for another year.

Mr Trump said policies by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government posed an “unusual and extraordinary” threat to US.foreign policy. At the same time, Zimbabwe has failed to implement promised reforms.

Responding to this latest development, a good number of members of the apostolic sect staged a demonstration at the United States of America embassy in protest of the renewal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Under the aegises of the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Council of Churches, the sects handed over petitions calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe to the United States and British embassies and the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe.

The council gave the embassies and the EU delegation a 21-day ultimatum to respond to their petitions.

The protesting procession showed placards that read ‘Liberate Zimbabwe Remove Sanctions’ and sang sombre gospel songs that called for the removal of sanctions.

Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) patron Jimayi Muduvuri had earlier on told ZBC News:

“We are appealing to the US and EU to remove sanctions against our country. Our people have suffered for too long. We will use the power of music to campaign for the lifting of sanctions and we, therefore, call upon all Zimbabweans to assume a common stance for the development of our beloved country.”

For years now, members of the apostolic sects, through their main syndicates the ACCZ and Zimbabwe Amalgamated Council of Churches (ZACC), have consistently spoken against sanctions.

In 2011, the churches of white regalia rallied behind the historic National Anti-Sanctions Petition Campaign which was launched on the 2nd of March by the then Head of State President Robert Mugabe to denounce the sanctions.

Since 2002, western countries have slapped targeted sanctions or restrictive measures upon leading figures of the political establishment and some state-related corporate entities, plunging Zimbabwe in a serious international relations dilemma. They cited human rights violations, flawed elections and tyrannical rule as grounds for the sanctions.

The restrictive measures — financial and travel restrictions on a series of specifically named individuals — were originally imposed in 2002, as a statement against violent, repressive and undemocratic actions directed by senior government and security sector officials.

The scope of the measures has waxed and waned over the years, initially applying to 20 individuals — including Robert Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Constantino Chiwenga and Perence Shiri.

By 2004, the list numbered 95 individuals, then rising to 203 individuals and 40 entities in 2009, following the severe electoral violence of the previous year.

Since then, the EU has progressively reduced the scope of its measures, both during and after the period of the inclusive government, essentially as a confidence-building step to improve relations with the Zimbabwean government, to foster better, less violent and more democratic governance, and to prepare for the inevitable post-Mugabe future.

In their current, much-reduced state, restrictive measures are only active against two people, Robert and Grace Mugabe, as well as an arms embargo against state-owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

Most African countries and business people have also thrown their weight behind President Mnangagwa in calling on the West to remove the sanctions.

However, the EU approach to Zimbabwe has been described as “a case study in policy failure and the limits of global influence”.

In a comprehensive article ran by the Mail & Guardian on seventeen years’ of the EU’s restrictive measures, International relations scholar Joe Devanny argues that they have “provided a tough lesson in the limits of the EU’s influence and global reach.”

“Put simply, the EU is nursing a failed Zimbabwe policy in the absence of better alternatives.”

Devanny argues that there is a need for the EU to think beyond restrictive measures and “re-explore more imaginative options to pursue in parallel”, as they have achieved very little.

“…the measures have long since become a red herring, useless for changing the regime’s behaviour and even counter-productive. For years, Mugabe confronted the measures (and their US counterparts) as something like a free gift, which he re-packaged to deft rhetorical effect, hammering home the narrative of ‘Western sanctions’ — a narrative to which many are receptive, including, it seemed recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa.”

Speaking at the burial of the late Brigadier General Emilio Munemo at the National Heroes Acre in Harare on Saturday, Pres. Mnangagwa lashed out at the United States for renewing sanctions against Zimbabwe, saying they were a violation of human rights.

“We call for the unconditional removal of the illegal, spiteful and completely unjustified sanctions on our country, which continue to violate the basic human rights of our people.

We fought for peace, we believe in peace and we do not pose any type of threat to any country in the world,” he said.

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ImChris Charamba

ImChris Charamba

Head Storyteller at Enthuse Afrika. Balances literary writing with pop culture experience. Captivates raw, authentic sights, moments, feelings and conversations. Follow me on Twitter @ImChrisCharamba

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