Ray Bande Senior Reporter
SANCTIONS imposed on Zimbabwe should be removed as they are the root cause of the country’s economic challenges that have given rise to other vices such as corruption and poverty.
This was said by panelists drawn from divergent political, religious and civic organisations during a public debate session organised by non-governmental organisations, the civil society and churches in Mutare last week.
Panelists took turns to denounce the ruinous sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States and the European Union.
An NGO, the Zimbabwe Activists Alliance, has been going around the country and bringing together leaders of political parties, civil society and churches under one roof to dialogue on progressive ways through which the current socio-economic challenges can be solved.
Founding coordinator of the Zimbabwe Activists Alliance Tendai Mudehwe said: “I think we have to be clear from the onset. Sanctions must go, corruption must go and Zimbabwe must live again. Sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe after the then President, Cde Robert Mugabe, made a bold decision and took back the land.
“People talk about types of sanctions and so on, but for us as women and mothers, sanctions have brought about suffering. Sanctions have brought about corruption. The campaign against sanctions must be non-partisan.
“We are all suffering as Zimbabweans because of sanctions and restrictive measures.”
The Civic Society and Churches Joint Forum (CCJF) provincial coordinator for Manicaland Reverend Walter Nyakununu said: “We are here to reset the people’s agenda.
“Sanctions have affected us negatively and we all have to accept that we have to speak against sanctions as a nation.”
Former Mutare Senator Engineer Patrick Chitaka said: “I just want to add dimensions of this sanctions debate. When you look at the business side, we have been affected negatively.
“I have been a victim of sanction in a business I used to run, yet I was an MDC-T senator.
“Simply because of my nationality, I could not get the deal I deserved.
“I had a company that I used to employ 3 000 workers, but everything collapsed because of sanctions because business had to be done through the back and not the front door. You could not buy anything directly.
“Those that were in privileged positions exploited their ‘opportunities’ and that fuelled corruption.”
CCJF national coordinator Abigale Mupambi said in a statement that it was time to go back to the basics.
“This is not about being Zanu-PF or MDC, it is about being Zimbabwean. Our issues have been captured in political bickering, let’s go back to basics to redefine our struggle.”