The Zimbabwe Amalgamated Council of Churches(ZACC) has intensified their fight against the Western-imposed sanctions by launching the Coalition Against Sanctions (CAS) as the European Union, the United States and British governments remain unremitting in lifting their economic boycott of Zimbabwe, regardless of the growing calls to by the government.
CAS is a group of various organisations in Zimbabwe and abroad who have joined hands in the fight against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
Since 2002, the west has slapped targeted sanctions upon leading figures of the political establishment and some state-related corporate entities, plunging Zimbabwe in a serious international relations dilemma. The restrictive measures — financial and travel restrictions on a series of specifically named individuals — were originally imposed 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 former president Robert Mugabe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, VP 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 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.
Several organisations, ZACC and the War Veteran Associations included, have however contended that the targeted sanctions are never about human rights and democracy. They argue that they are also not targeted on a few individuals, but are a weapon of mass economic destruction and regime change which must be condemned at all cost.
Recently, the Standard Chartered Bank was charged a US$18 million penalty for facilitating transactions involving Zimbabwe, a fact that the above-mentioned entities said laid bare that the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) is not targeted at a few individuals but seeks to make ordinary people suffer.
Speaking at the launch of Coalition Against Sanctions (Z) in Harare on Monday, ZACC patron Jimayi Muduvuri, whose unison have of late handed over petitions calling for the unconditional removal of sanctions to the US, British embassies and the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe, reiterated the need for the west to recall the sanctions.
“As church leaders, we found it fitting to launch this initiative because we’ve been debilitated by sanctions. There is no medicine in Hospitals because of sanctions. The message is clear; we’ve had enough of sanctions. We want them to go today,” said Mr Muduvuri.
The coalition, he said, is “a new plan that will see President Trump removing his sanctions” on Zimbabwe. He called all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation to unite and advocate for the removal of illegal sanctions.
“We want a Zimbabwe without sanctions for the release of economic potential and the prosperity of its people. We want a better and conducive business environment, elimination of perceived economic and political risk and growth of Gross Domestic Product and creation of employment opportunities,” he said.
Standing in for Victor Matemadanda the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), Cde Muwoni submitted that the American-imposed sanctions are a brutal economic war against Zimbabwe.
Muwoni went further to question why the American government would build a US$200 million US embassy in Westgate, strategically positioned close to Mt Hampden, in a nation they allege has no respect for human rights and democracy.
“It means they have a permanent interest in Zimbabwe,” said Cde Muwoni.
Economic analyst Dr. Davison Gomo said ZACC’s incessant calls for the unconditional lifting of sanctions now goes beyond the pulpit and the pew through its brainchild the CAS.
“The Coalition Against Sanctions has a duty to mobilise the public against sanctions,” he said. “It doesn’t have to talk to itself, but to engage with the people on why sanctions are a problem. We probably have to link sanctions with the problems we’re facing as a country.”
Harking back to time immemorial, Dr. Gomo said the history of sanctions is littered with terrible developments, especially on the side of the victims.
“Sanctions victimises the poor.”
The stout economist went further to submit that underneath sanctions lies an agenda of race and imperial dominance.
“Sanctions are sponsored by racially-oriented people, those who believe that their skin is lighter and are beautiful. We need to appreciate that the problems we’re facing today are no different to slavery and imperial or colonial subjugation.”
Dr Gomo said he struggles to grasp what the American agenda is in their sanctions towards Zimbabwe.
“What does the US want from Zimbabwe? They have everything. As for Europe, I can understand because they’re our former colonial masters. But what of the USA? Mugabe, the man they hated the most left. How he left is none of their business. We now have a new dispensation that says let bygones be bygones, Zimbabwe is open for business.”
Sanctions, the economist postulated, are making President Mnangagwa’s office time an uphill as it has multifarious curtailments.
“Now President Mnangagwa is running a very restricted country. He’s been told what our media should be like and everything else. They might as well tell him how we should be living in our homes,” said the economist to the chortling of many.
He wounded his remark by saying that the West is permanently committed to wiping out the revolutionary party ZANU PF and will not cede until they have a government of their own design in power.
Also present at the launch was the President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Sifelani Jabangwe, who said that sanctions by their nature are meant to affect business and the society as a whole. He said as champions of the industry they are finding it hard to create jobs in an economically unviable environment.
“We cannot create the jobs we want because of these sanctions. As CZI, our position is clear: Sanctions must go. Zimbabwe is not a threat to anyone or to global peace. Let Zimbabwe run its race.”
Other organisations that shared their solidarity messages during the launch were members of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Union (ZFTU), Family Federation and World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association (Ziliwaco), Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (Zicosu), and Vision 2030.
To augment the church and the war vets efforts, Ziliwaco chairman and ZANU FP youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi said youth from various political were camped at the American embassy where they are lobbying the consulate to recall sanctions.
Many attendees who spoke to this writer at the launch, however, wondered where other church consortiums like the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Catholic Commission and Bishops and Zimbabwe Divine Destiny were at an event Cde Togarepi dubbed historic.
Meanwhile, the British Parliament is expected to discuss a motion to approve a statutory instrument relating to the Zimbabwe sanctions.
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