Harare — Zimbabweans will stay home on Friday after the government declared a public holiday, saying people should demonstrate against US sanctions rather than work.
Sanctions against some individuals in the ruling Zanu-PF and businesses associated with them were imposed back in 2003. The US has made periodic amendments to include people the state department believes are responsible for human-rights abuses or enriching themselves at the country’s expense.
The sanctions are “an act of terrorism against Zimbabwe”, said Zanu-PF’s spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo. Zimbabwe has received more than $3bn in US aid since 1980 and at least $300m this year alone, the US ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said in an interview with newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube that was posted on the US embassy’s Twitter page.
The US is Zimbabwe’s single-biggest donor. Despite diplomatic tension between the two countries, American aid kept Zimbabweans from starvation after former president Robert Mugabe authorised the often violent seizure of about 90% of all white-owned farms between 2000 and 2012. That cost the country millions of jobs and saw farm exports almost disappear.
“Our targeted sanctions are not responsible for Zimbabwe falling tragically short of its potential. The fault lies in the catastrophic mismanagement by those in power and the government’s own abuse of its citizens,” Nichols tweeted Thursday.
SADC reiterated an August call for all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe to be removed. Sanctions “directly impact on employment and income-generation opportunities, and thus the livelihoods of the ordinary Zimbabweans”, it said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.