Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
AHEAD of the historic Sadc Anti-Sanctions Day on Sunday, churches and opposition parties like the MDC-T, have called for the unconditional removal of the illegal economic embargo so as to enable the country to achieve its aspirations.
Affirming their participation in the October 25 solidarity event, various churches, including the Roman Catholic, described sanctions imposed by Western nations as an unnecessary yoke.
Secretary general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference Father Frederick Chiromba said it was the general public who are bearing the full brunt of the illegal sanctions.
“The issue of sanctions is now in the public domain; hence all Zimbabweans should unite in the call for the immediate removal of sanctions. There is a need to remove this yoke of sanctions from the neck of our poor struggling people and give us room to rebuild our nation and economy. It’s now high time, those sanctions are removed, for the benefit of the general populace,” said Father Chiromba.
Since coming to power, the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa has taken pragmatic steps to re-engage the world, including hostile Western nations with the highlight of the re-engagement efforts finding expression in the united call by SADC member states to speak in unison against sanctions annually on October 25.
Apart from re-engaging the world, the Second Republic has also implemented political and economic reforms that have been accompanied by unprecedented infrastructural development notwithstanding the continued existence of the illegal sanctions.
As such, the patron of the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council (ZACC), Bishop Jimayi Muduvuri, echoed Father Chiromba’s call for the unconditional removal of the sanctions.
“President Mnangagwa brought in the new environment, the new ways of doing business. We cannot deny it; the atmosphere has changed from the old dispensation. There is now freedom of speech and expression in this country, people can now openly talk and pray openly.
“This is all because of freedom in this country. The atmosphere has changed, the playing field has changed, hence there is no need for the US to suffocate Zimbabwe through sanctions,” he said.
He pleaded with the US and other Western countries to give Zimbabwe room to rebuild its economy.
“The main mission of this God-driven compassionate initiative is to spearhead a determined campaign to lobby and appeal to the US powers who are behind these sanctions to withdraw these inhumane measures which are putting a purposeless, yet destructive burden on the poor of our nation,” said Bishop Muduvuri.
Leader of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ), Bishop Johannes Ndanga called for the intervention of the United Nations to summon the United States on why it imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“The ACCZ is fully aware that sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are illegal hence they need to be removed since they are suffocating the vulnerable groups of society.
“SADC has not petitioned the UN asking for sanctions on Zimbabwe, the African Union did not petition the UN asking them to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe, which makes the sanctions illegal. The sanctions are only for the interests of Americans and their allies,” said Rev Ndanga.
He further said the illegal sanctions are a violation of human rights, hence the need for the UN to step in and summon the US to expeditiously remove the embargo.
“We are appealing to the UN to approach the US on why are they keeping the illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe,’’ he said.
St Emmanuel Church leader Baba Ezekiel Vupenyu Chuma said sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and its allies are not justified.
He said Christians from various religious denominations will join other Zimbabweans and SADC member states in raising their voices against the illegal sanctions. “They must be removed unconditionally. The sanctions are a high level of human rights abuse,” he said.
Sadc countries have declared October 25 as solidarity day against illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and resolved to conduct various activities in their respective countries on that day to resoundingly call for the immediate removal of the sanctions
Meanwhile, the MDC-T, the country’s biggest opposition party in terms of parliamentary representation said it will take part in the anti-sanctions commemorations.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on the effectiveness of the re-engagement process, MDC-T secretary for finance and economic affairs, who is also Hatfield legislator, Dr Tapiwa Mashakada, said the opposition was opposed to sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“We, in the opposition, do not support sanctions. We want the sanctions removed like yesterday. So, we want to help you to remove these sanctions. We don’t support sanctions. We want them removed,” he said.
He said that the party’s acting president Dr Thokozani Khupe, as the chairperson of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) International Re-engagement committee, has been on a thrust to re-engage the Western world.
“Dr Khupe has been doing a lot of work to try to assist in re-engagement and engagement so she must be supported to assist in that regard. However, those issues must also be addressed as I have highlighted so that we have no excuse for any other country continuing to maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe,” he said.
As opposition parties, Dr Mashakada said their role was not to just attack the Government but also advise.