BY SILAS NKALA/ STEPHEN CHADENGA
THE Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) has said citizens should be wary of Zanu PF politicians who want to use them to access their looted wealth hidden in the West and Europe by hoodwinking impoverished masses into joining the anti-sanctions crusade.
Speaking to Southern Eye yesterday, Zipra Veterans Association spokesperson Buster Magwizi said people must not be misled that they were suffering because of sanctions.
He said citizens must apportion the blame on the same politicians who were architects of the repressive political environment and human rights violations.
“There are no sanctions in Zimbabwe. Those are targeted measures blocking the selfish politicians from accessing their looted wealth in those countries and now want to use us as their pressure groups to pile pressure on the West to remove those measures,” Magwizi said.
“We must not be seen demonstrating for the few individual politicians who have been destroying the country since 1980 and they now want us to assist them to be allowed to go and enjoy their loot.”
He said people should protest against cash shortages, and poverty wages and salaries which have been eroded by inflation.
“Just imagine that civil servants had their salaries increased recently and now they (salaries) are worthless. Prices have gone beyond reach. You can’t buy meat. Bread price has jumped up, we no longer eat bread. I do not remember when I last ate it,” Magwizi said.
“General citizens must demonstrate for the improvement of their livelihoods and pay, not for removal of sanctions. The event was a waste of time and resources.” He spoke in reference to last Friday’s countrywide anti-sanctions campaign.
Magwizi said the government must instead invest its energy in resolving economic and political problems through reforms.
He said those who attended the anti-sanctions march were lured by food handouts.
The Zipra spokesperson said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s address to a near empty National Sports Stadium in Harare was a sign that people were now fed up with the Zanu PF leadership.
Human rights activist and political commentator Effie Ncube said the anti-sanctions march was typically a Zanu PF affair and a distraction from pressing bread and butter issues that government is failing to address.
“Most importantly, it exposed them for the weak organisation they are, an organisation that survives on corruption, patronage and rigging. It was a march on nothing and to nowhere that only succeeded in having State Security minister Owen Ncube added onto the sanctions list, a place he long deserved (to be),” he said.
“They got a reality check when the thousands of people they expected to come simply stayed at home. People now know that the problem is not sanctions as such, but corruption, maladministration and incompetence. While people might want sanctions lifted, they would rather have corruption and human rights abuses be stopped first.”
Ncube said only political and economic reforms would remove sanctions.
“Rule of law, democratic and accountable governance, free and fair elections, and abiding by the provisions of the Constitution that assure freedoms of expression, media, assembly and association is the only path to having sanctions lifted,” he said.
South Africa-based political activist and commentator Fortune Mlalazi said Mnangagwa should be diplomatic in tackling the sanctions issue.
“There is little of nothing that they achieved. They only achieved giving people chicken and chips which was not their major objective. It was one of the first times in which you will see very few people attending a national event organised by Zanu PF,” he said.
“It exposed the divisions and cracks within Zanu PF and the coup plotters in the army. They just exposed their weakness, they were supposed to take time and organise properly.”
Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana on Saturday described the march as successful, saying they hoped it drove the point home to the imposers of sanctions.
Meanwhile, Gweru residents yesterday slammed government for abusing school property at a time parents were struggling to fend for their school-going children.
Government used school buses in the Midlands capital to ferry marchers on Friday last week.
“As a parent, I feel it is not right for government to use school buses to ferry people to its functions,” an Ascot suburb parent, Nomsa Ncube, said.
“As parents, we struggle to pay levies and fees to buy school property and using such property for government or political party functions is just abuse.”
Another resident, James Dube, said: “We are talking of a march that is very controversial, with people forming different political opinions over the issue. What if some hooligans just decide to burn or stone the bus, does government have resources to compensate schools given the economic meltdown obtaining in the country?”