What the people say about UN call to suspend sanctions

UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, last week urged the EU and US to suspend the restrictive measures against President Robert Mugabe, his lieutenants in Zanu (PF) and companies aligned to the party, saying they were hurting the poor. The Zimbabwean interviewed ordinary people, who expressed mixed feelings over the Commissioner’s call.

Never Ndoro, 39, a Glen Norah airtime vendor said sanctions did not have an impact and were just used by Zanu (PF) as a scapegoat.

“Zanu (PF) has run out of excuses to remain in power, that is why the President continues to tell the world that he will remain in power until sanctions have been removed. These measures do not have any impact on the economy of the country,” said Ndoro.

Another airtime vendor, who identified himself as Charity, argued that sanctions must be removed because they give Zanu (PF) a chance to sell itself as a martyred party.

“If they fail to deliver as a party, they just use sanctions as an excuse to whip up people’s emotions against other parties. So sanctions must go because some people really believe what Zanu (PF) says when they say everyone must unite behind them against the West,” said Charity.

“But have you ever seen the West coming to destroy agricultural production? Or is it the West that unleashed violence against the people of Zimbabwe in 2008? Why blame the sanctions if Mugabe and his party are the ones to blame?” he asked.

Asked about Pillay’s statement urging ‘countries that are currently applying sanctions on Zimbabwe to suspend them, at least until the conduct and outcome of the elections and related reforms are clear,’ Wendy Musari (22) of Engineering, Highfield accused the EU and the United States of being insincere about facilitating democratic reform in Zimbabwe.

“It is clear that these sanctions continue to be an issue that is occupying a lot of space in the GNU. If they are removed, there can be more time to focus on other issues like economic reform and the creation of a peaceful election environment. If the US and EU are sincere about proper reform and free and fair elections, they must give Zimbabwe the benefit of doubt and remove sanctions to allow reform to take place,” said Musari. A Zanu (PF) youth member, who identified himself only as Comrade Dee, said Pillay’s statements were welcome given that his party has been advocating for the removal of sanctions for nearly a decade now.

“Pillay must be praised for being realistic about the sanctions issue and the Americans and Europeans must immediately remove the sanctions because they are all members of the UN,” he said.

“In essence, Pillay’s statement is a sign that the international advocacy against sanctions by Zanu (PF) has worked and we must consolidate that achievement by making noise to the EU and US to scrap the sanctions,” he added.

A Highfield electrician, Tinashe Muskwe (24), said Pillay’s assessment regarding the sanctions was wrong.

“I do not think sanctions affect us as a nation. They only affect certain targeted individuals and these are the ones who complain about them,” said Muskwe.

He said President Mugabe should instead ensure that there were democratic elections before the sanctions could be lifted. “If sanctions are removed, Zanu (PF) will feast on that and unleash violence that will hinder free and fair elections” said Muskwe.

But Madzibaba Arnold of the Johanne Masowe WeChishanu Apostolic sect in Budiriro 5 thinks Pillay’s statements come at the right time. “Sanctions must be removed forthwith to set the pace for economic development as there will be no more excuses for economic failure,” he said.

Madzibaba added that the UN must actively participate to lobby for the removal of these restrictive measures instead of just talking.

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