By Robert Tapfumaneyi
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has admitted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Europe and America since 2001 were undesirable but quickly said the embargo constituted twin evils with Zanu PF which should both be consigned to the dust bin.
He was addressing party supporters at a ‘thank you’ rally in Chiredzi weekend.
“Zanu PF and sanctions must go because they are twins, they walk together,” said the opposition leader.
“When you see sanctions, you see Zanu PF; when you see Zanu PF, you see sanctions.
“We have said we don’t want sanctions on our country, but sanctions can only go if we remove Zanu PF, because Zanu PF is the one that invited sanctions in this country.”
The opposition leader’s sentiments towards measures deliberately imposed on the Zanu PF led administration on alleged rights abuses and poll fraud, could be an attempt to flip the long held narrative that MDC was complicit in the imposition of sanctions by its former western allies.
Zanu PF has blamed nearly all the country’s economic troubles on sanctions.
In his Sunday address, Chamisa said any western re-engagement with the Zanu PF led government should be premised on how far the Harare regime has gone in its reform agenda, key among them the observance of human rights.
“I told those in America, yes we want to see normalisation of relations but mark us, judge us on our reform agenda,” he said.
“If I say Mnangagwa let’s go for reforms, he says ‘no reform’, let’s go for economic reforms, ‘no reforms, because there are sanctions’.”
Chamisa said the MDC has demonstrated that sanctions were not even a hindrance to economic prosperity in the troubled country which witnessed a positive spell when the main opposition formed the now defunct coalition administration with Zanu PF 2009-13.
“Even when America had not changed its position on restrictive measures on Zanu PF, we changed the economy of this country during the GNU era together with the late Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC and ex-Prime Minister) even when the ruling party was under sanctions.
“You enjoyed good life during the GNU era, dollar-for-two was introduced by Tsvangirai and what has changed now.
“For us it doesn’t matter whether there are restrictive measures or not. When you have good economic policies, things do change for the better,” he said.
With the active participation of MDC in the inclusive government, Chamisa said, the country’s inflation was kept at a low.
Chamisa said former President Robert Mugabe displayed better dexterity in handling the economy compared to his successor.
“Look at the country’s debts, Mugabe used to borrow but he had limits; but with Mnangagwa, that’s too much and I told him ‘it is that neck scarf that influences you’.
The MDC leader also slammed government’s controversial austerity measures introduced by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube last year, saying this was equal to robbing the poor.