IT is indicative of the polarisation in Zimbabwe politics that on a rather unusual holiday, specifically created to voice the country’s disquiet about sanctions imposed by the United States of America, the two prominent political players in the land are spinning narratives that are poles apart.
The US and the European Union imposed financial and travel bans on top Zanu PF and military figures from 2001 over alleged human rights abuses and electoral fraud.
While the EU removed the blanket sanctions in 2014, it now only maintains the embargo on former President, the late Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace and Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
The US on the other hand, has tightened the screws, accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of going back on its promise to open up democratic space and institute wide ranging reforms.
In March this year, it extended the sanctions on 141 individuals and firms linked to the ruling elite, including Mnangagwa and his deputies.
But the opposition MDC party accuses Mnangagwa and his party of using sanctions as a convenient excuse to mask its failure to deal with the worst economic crisis facing the country in a decade.
The crisis, it argues, stems from the fact that Zimbabweans lack confidence in the current political leadership of the country after a disputed election last year.
The lack of good governance, legitimate and accountable leadership as evidenced by rigged or stolen elections; State-sanctioned gross human rights violations; rampant corruption; police brutality; arbitrary arrests and persecution of opposition politicians and civil society activists; abductions and forced disappearances; abuse of food aid as a political weapon; suppression of rural communities; cartels or state capture; among other vices that militate against the people of Zimbabwe, wrote its spokesperson Daniel Molokele yesterday.
So, yesterday, around 7 000 Zanu PF supporters marched to the National Sports Stadium to condemn the sanctions, which government argues are punishment for its seizure of white-owned farms at the turn of the millennium.
The attendance numbers tell of a country weary of the circus and tired of the daily grind and are still unable to provide for their families. Indeed, a video which was widely circulated on social media showing a group of women fighting over a box of fast food at the stadium sums up the desperation Zimbabweans face.
Despite the prospect of the two biggest clubs Dynamos and Highlanders providing football fun, Zimbabweans just could not be bothered to turn up to hear Mnangagwa’s pitch and the giant stadium, which has a sitting capacity of 60 000, was largely empty.
Zimbabweans have had enough and need a way out of this mess. Our political leaders are not providing it. Or if they just turn around, face each other and talk, there maybe light at the end of the tunnel.