Sunday Mail Reporters

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa will headline today’s SADC Anti-Sanctions Day commemorations with a virtual address to the nation, where he will give direction on how the country should forge ahead against the illegal sanctions imposed by the West.

October 25 was set aside by SADC Heads of State last year as a day for the region to show solidarity against the embargo.

This year’s commemorations are being held under the theme: “Resilience, Progress and Solidarity under an environment of sanctions”.

The events kicked off yesterday at the Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo, where over 30 musical acts performed during the Anti-Sanctions Virtual Gala.

Other smaller events are scheduled across the country.

Government will undertake outreach programmes throughout the country to sensitise people about the anti-sanctions drive.

Unlike last year, there will be no anti-sanctions march in keeping with Covid-19 measures.

In an interview with Khulumani FM in Bulawayo, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the commemorations will be done virtually.

“As you are aware, last year we had the inaugural commemorations on the 25th of October,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. “This year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, everything is being done virtually for reasons which we all know.

“The measures which have been put in place to fight this pandemic require that we do not have large gatherings.

“We, however, felt that we should be able to commemorate this very important day virtually.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the Anti-Sanctions Day is a historic show of unity among SADC nations.

The sanctions, she said, had laid to waste Zimbabwe’s once vibrant economy.

“This is a very special weekend because the 25th of October is a very special day.

“This is in commemoration of a very historic decision, which was taken by the Heads of State and Government of the SADC region.

“That kind of solidarity, coming from all the Heads of State in SADC, set aside the 25th of October as a day to pay tribute to Zimbabweans, who have suffered.

“Zimbabweans have really gone through a lot; they have endured trials and tribulations under this yoke of illegal sanctions.

“As Zimbabweans together, we should say no to sanctions.”

She said this year’s theme spoke of the need for solidarity and unity as well as working hard to bust the sanctions.

“When you look at this year’s theme, it is loaded.

“The theme is: ‘Resilience, Progress and Solidarity in an environment of sanctions’ and that is loaded.

“Let me start by explaining the resilience, which is all about the resolve of the people of this country.

“We applaud the people of this country, because it has been two decades since these sanctions were imposed.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the sanctions were imposed because the Government gave land to the indigenous majority.

“What the ZANU PF Government did was to marry the people of this country with what they had been promised, which is the land,” she said.

The Minister said the West imposed the sanctions in order to collapse the Zimbabwean economy.

“They are on record as saying they will make the economy of Zimbabwe scream.

“Even when (Tendai) Biti was the Minister of Finance, he acknowledged the fact that it was impossible (to operate under sanctions).

“The sanctions have actually affected everyone across all sectors of the economy.

“So, at this time we are thanking SADC for backing Zimbabwe under very difficult circumstances

“Even President Mnangagwa in his speeches, he has saluted the SADC region for standing with us under difficult conditions.

“So we are very proud to be a member of SADC, we are very proud to be a part of the continent of Africa.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said despite being under sanctions, Zimbabwe continued to rebuild its economy with little support from the outside world.

“On progress, inspite of the sanctions, Zimbabweans have not sat down and allowed the sanctions to strangle them; they have not just sat back to scream and mourn.

“Rather, a lot of work is being done to bust the sanctions.

“There has been a lot of progress in this country.

“Under the Second Republic, so much progress has been made including building a lot of roads with no foreign support,” she said.

The Minister said the rebuilding of infrastructure affected by Cyclone Idai in Manicaland and parts of Masvingo and Mashonaland East provinces was testament to progress that has been made by Government.

“When we talk about solidarity, this is now about the solidarity that we are getting from SADC.

“The Heads of State and Government setting aside a day we will use to call for the unconditional removal of these illegal economic sanctions together with Zimbabwe shows solidarity.”

The country, she said, was appreciative of other outside voices that are calling for the removal of sanctions.

“We have had other presidents including from Kenya (Uhuru Kenyatta) and many other African leaders calling for the removal of sanctions.

“This shows that as Africa we are ready to defend our continent,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.

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