via Whites anti-sanctions group backs EU 01 July 2014 by Staff Reporter
AN all-white lobby group calling itself Whites Against Sanctions, which was formed early this year, has endorsed the European Union’s (EU) evolving policies towards Zimbabwe.
The EU imposed sanctions against Harare more than a decade ago, accusing President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party of human rights violations and election fraud, allegations denied by the Zimbabwean strongman.
But Brussels has indicated a willingness to re-engage with Harare and most of the sanctions have since been lifted in the period leading up to and after last year’s elections which were won by Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Addressing a press conference in Harare Tuesday, the anti-sanctions group, led by its chairperson Mathew Smith, commended the EU policy shift towards greater engagement and constructive interaction with the Zanu PF government.
“We would like to thank the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Baroness Ashton for making that historic decision in March to start the process of normalising relations with our country, we who live here approve of such a historic move,” said Smith.
“We, who live in Zimbabwe, know that all the issues our country faces today will only be solved through constructive dialogue and constructive engagement.
“For too long the international community has isolated Zimbabwe to the detriment of the ordinary Zimbabwean people – and to the detriment of those who live here. The time for mutual antagonism is over and the time to amend relationship is now.”
Smith added that the move by the EU investment bank to consider investing in local financial institutions would have a ‘revolutionary’ effect on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans and local businesses.
However, Taylor Mvududu, who claims to be a founding member of the Zimbabwe Anti-Sanctions Campaign and came back to Zimbabwe after having lived and worked in South Africa, said the country has struggled with the dwindling foreign direct investment due to negative image that comes with sanctions.
“It is important to add our voice in support of the current re-engagement efforts by the EU and Zimbabwe government because the country urgently needs aid and trade but I strongly believe that free and fair trade is more important for long term sustainability,” he said.
“We should not waste time talking about why sanctions were put in place or how they were implemented; sanctions have turned ordinary Zimbabweans destitute because they stopped dialogue from occurring”.
The group argues that they find it ironical that the advocates of sanctions were quick to suspend trade with Zimbabwe but did not suspend the interest on the country’s national debt.
Led by white businessmen and former Zimbabwe Cricket Team Captain Heather Streak, the group came out in the open early this year calling for the total and unconditional lifting of all sanctions against Zimbabwe.
They denied trying to protect the interests of the few remaining whites in the country, insisting they were apolitical, non partisan Zimbabweans who have been affected by the economic sanctions in a profound negative way whose full impact has never been told since the sanctions were first imposed.
The group called on the US president Barack Obama to repeal the ZIDERA Act and urged international financial institutions such as IMF and World Bank to change their policies on Zimbabwe