Peter Matika and Mthabisi Tshuma, Sunday News Reporters
BULAWAYO is geared up to join the rest of the country and the Southern African Development Community on Friday in marching against sanctions that were imposed by America and the European Union, resulting in economic challenges that have affected Zimbabwe over the past two decades.
Sadc, during its 39th Ordinary Summit held in Tanzania in August, declared 25 October as the solidarity day against illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and resolved to conduct various activities in their respective countries on the day to call for the immediate removal of the sanctions. Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Cde Judith Ncube said Bulawayo should come together and march against sanctions.
“This will be a nationwide event and we urge everyone to take part in the event. Residents in their respective neighbourhoods and areas should gather and march against these illegal sanctions that have made life unbearable,” said Cde Ncube.
She said there will be a procession from Pelandaba/Magwegwe robots, Western Commonage robots and City Hall.
Our Harare Bureau reports that President Emmerson Mnangagwa will preside over the main event at the National Sports Stadium, which will be preceded by a march from Robert Mugabe Square. A representative of Sadc chairperson and Tanzania’s President Dr John Magufuli will attend. Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana said the event will build the national and international critical mass needed to turn the tide.
“We are building national and international critical mass against sanctions, which, in our case, are a crime against humanity as they are causing so much untold suffering and deaths . . . and negatively affecting the prospects of future generations. We have 15 other States speaking on our behalf and many organisations saying enough is enough.”
The regional push, Mr Mangwana said, was reminiscent of the effort that felled apartheid in South Africa. Harare hopes that the advocacy by regional and international allies will gradually snowball into the much-needed diplomatic leverage to remove the embargo.
“What this exercise does is to mount diplomatic pressure on those who have imposed sanctions on our country,” he said.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) chairperson Mr Elasto Mugwadi said the commission is ratcheting up its international lobby at regional, continental and global fora for the punitive measures to be lifted. ZHRC has since taken the anti-sanctions push to the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), a UN-affiliated organisation.
According to reports, Midlands Province will have a soccer match, a music gala and a procession to mark the day. The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Midlands, Senator Larry Mavima will read the main speech after the procession in Gweru.
“We want to have a procession in the Central Business District, after which the minister will present his keynote address. The music gala and soccer match will be held at Mkoba Stadium,” a member of the organising committee said.
In a survey, residents from Bulawayo said they will heed the call to take part in the march with the hope of seeing the revival of the country’s economy. Early this year, more than 2,5 million people signed the anti-sanctions petition launched by the Zimbabwe Unity and Sanctions Relief Initiative (ZUSRI) appealing to the United Kingdom, United States of America as well as countries in the European Union to repeal the embargoes imposed on the country.
Mrs Sephukile Nyoni who resides in Hillside said she hopes America and EU countries will listen to the voice of the region and remove the economic embargoes that have brought untold suffering to the country.
“Definitely I will take part in the march as I hope it will go a long way in fixing our country’s economy which the current leadership is working flat out to fix,” said Mrs Nyoni.
Another resident Mr Thamsanqa Moyo from Cowdray Park said the march was a time to unite and show that Zimbabweans are one when it comes to defending their national interests. For about two decades, sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have caused untold suffering on ordinary citizens. Sanctions continue to cause immense suffering to Zimbabwe and the coming in of the new dispensation ushered in the re-engagement thrust aimed at thawing frosty relations with the West, with the objective of getting the illegal sanctions lifted.
The continued renewal of sanctions by the United States and its allies in the European Union is derailing Government’s efforts of rejuvenating the country’s socio-economic recovery and progress. The country’s productive sectors: mining, agriculture, energy and manufacturing continue to perform below capacity owing to the difficult economic environment as a result of the illegal sanctions.
Sadc has also upped its preparations for the day with officials calling on the whole region to participate. Sadc executive secretary Ms Stargomea Lawrence Tax in a tweet said, “Let us all take part in the Zim anti-sanctions day.”
Various countries in the region have lined up a number of activities in solidarity with Zimbabwe.
“We are some of those who have been calling on the world to relax the sanctions or lift the sanctions altogether so that Zimbabwe can begin to operate in an economic manner with the capabilities that it has,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
“As we are all aware, this brotherly and sisterly country has been on sanctions for a long time. These sanctions have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their Government but our entire region. It is like a human body: when you chop one of its parts, it affects the whole body. Therefore, I would like to seize this opportunity to urge the international community to lift up sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe. This brotherly country, after all, has now opened a new chapter and it is ready to engage with the rest of the world,” said President John Magafuli of Tanzania.
Meanwhile, MDC secretary-general Mr Charlton Hwende said they were not going to be part of the Sadc initiative.
“What I can comment on is the march that our party will have on the 24th. We are mobilising all democratic forces to march on that day in solidarity against human rights violations and the economic crisis. Those who are going to have a march on the 25th are free to do so, but we are not going to be part of it,” he said.