First Things First, Churches Tell Govt on Anti-Sanctions Day

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government declared Sunday, the 25th of October, as an “anti-sanctions day” as it seeks international solidarity to get the sanctions lifted.

Zimbabwe has been under sanctions for nearly two decades although the European Union has eased its sanctions. It maintains an arms embargo on Zimbabwe and a ban on trading with the military-owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

The United States maintains full sanctions on the country but insists that they only affect about 120 targeted individuals and firms who are accused of being corrupt and rights abuses.

But there is no accord on the sanctions’ effect on the economy.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli said:

“These sanctions have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their government but the entire region. It is like a human body, when you chop one of its parts it affects the whole body.”

Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), in a live broadcast sermon, said the SADC and AU leadership was not mad to call for the lifting of sanctions. They knew how devastating they were because Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of Africa but had now been reduced to a basket case.

However, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Harare on Saturday said Zimbabwe’s political leaders have brought economic ruin on the country through corruption and human rights abuses as she rejected government claims that Western sanctions are to blame.

“What needs to be said: it’s not sanctions, it’s corruption that drives away investors and leaves teachers, doctors, nurses and services struggling,” Melanie Robinson said in a series of tweets.

She added:

“Sanctions don’t hurt ordinary citizens. Zimbabweans must be free to expose corruption, rights abuses and see perpetrators face justice.”

Brian Nichols, the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, on Friday, said “anti-sanctions” events were a “hollow” exercise for as long as Pres. Mnangagwa’s regime does not reform.

“The anti-sanctions events are very much designed to distract the people of Zimbabwe from the real causes of the problems in this country,” Nichols told journalists in Harare.

“I think if the government of Zimbabwe put the energy that they put into organising these types of events and generating statements from other SADC members into pursuing the reform agenda the better.”

While other church groups, syndicates ad consortiums rallied behind the government in lobbying against the sanctions, others did not.

In their ecumenical letter signed by the Executive Director Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, Churches advocacy group in matters of visibility and audibility in matters of governance, Zimbabwe Divine Destiny, said the government were to clean up its immediate closet first before it demonstrates against the West.

Here is their statement in its entirety:

First things First

If the call for the removal of Sanctions supersedes the demand for the upholding and restoration of shrinking civil liberties, Zimbabwe will forever remain a fascist state that has no regards for Human Rights and Dignity.

While sanctions ordinarily are unwelcome, it is imperative that Zimbabweans and particularly the Church, which is the moral compass of the nation, introspect and interrogate why sanctions were preferred upon Zimbabwe in the first place? It must be noted that this is purely a political issue and it is not a secret that the body politic in Zimbabwe is and has become toxic.

We have failed to exercise political tolerance since the days of early independence leading to Matebeleland massacres of 1983-87. We failed to entertain and accept the late and former Secretary General of Zanu PF Edgar Tekere’s divergent and liberal yet noble political views leading to violence against Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM).

We failed dismally to institute a civilised land reform program opting for the barbaric bloody land seizures which surprisingly is now being reversed by the same Zanu Pf led government, a total disgrace and an embarrassing bungling act.

What hypocrisy! Is this not an indictment on the ruling party which indictment speaks to severe deficiency on the same in governance and best practice? Zimbabwe had no reason whatsoever to kill anyone be they white commercial farmers or black over land reform but the record speaks for itself.

We are arguably one of the only countries still experiencing extreme violence before, during and after elections in Africa and perhaps even globally yet we boast that we brought independence, majority rule and democracy. History is replete with countless names of victims of political violence with the state now glaringly complicit.

August 1, 2018, shootings of unarmed civilians by the army is a case in point and remains a dark chapter under the so-called “new dispensation”. As if that is not enough, President Mnangagwa’s own appointed Monthlante Commission of Inquiry established beyond any shred of doubt and recommended the arrest of the soldiers who shot innocent civilians alas!

To this day the President himself has not complied.

Our corruption from the upper echelons of governance ranks high on the corruption indices and it has run down the economy condemning citizens to abject poverty. Funds to combat Covid 19 were looted but there is no shock and outrage over this. We have all witnessed rampant corruption, siphoning of state coffers yet without the corresponding justice.

In fact, what is even shocking is that the only hope and last pillar capable of defending and upholding ordinary citizens’ rights, the judiciary, seems to be succumbing to incompetence cum capture as recent verdicts and adjudications have dismayed all and sundry.

The extra judiciary punishments of Hopewell Chin’ono, Jacob Ngarivhume for highlighting and publishing corruption while the guilty and now dismissed culprit Minister Obadiah Moyo and others, never spent a night in police cells let alone Chikurubi, can never be erased from the memory of every right-thinking and patriotic Zimbabwean.

How in the name of justice do we allow Ngadziore to be brutally attacked then arrested and even denied bail for addressing the press next to a company at the centre of an abduction yet the assailants are not reined in nor is there mention of the thugs? Such selective application of the law has become commonplace in Zimbabwe.

The nation cannot just sit by and watch such unbelievable travesty of justice normalised. What message are we sending to the young up and coming generation when we muzzle their rights with such impunity?

These are brute facts with empirical irrefutable evidence.

Are these not the issues we are supposed to be seized with as a nation than helping wolves cry for yet another opportunity to do the unthinkable despicable bizarre and grotesque dastardly acts while still in the office?

The question that begs an answer should be, what have we lost due to sanctions compared to the negative impact of violence manifesting in intimidations, abductions, maims cum murder, losses as a result of unbridled corruption and deterioration of living standards at the hands of downright incompetence and lack of policy cohesion?

If the requisites for the removal of sanctions was and still is adherence to the rule of law, observance
and upholding of Human Rights, then this has not obtained at all if anything, it’s far worse than when the so-called sanctions were introduced and there appears to be no remorse at all.

Any nation that does not uphold the rule of law, which baptises corruption, that muzzles and subdues political opponents with brute force and kills its own citizens for holding and expressing divergent views has no room in the 21st century and beyond.

Zimbabwe Divine Destiny calls on the Church and society at large, to think deeply, reflect before
joining the politicians, in calling for the removal of sanctions without demanding the observance and
restoration of basic fundamental human rights and return to the rule of law first.

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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


  1. Looking forward to reading more. Great article. Really thank you! Much obliged. Giulia Corbet Doty

  2. Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good work. Beitris Porter Colp

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