By Robert Tapfumaneyi
A lobby group of men and women of cloth calling itself Council of Elders have called upon the US and the Europe to remove “illegal sanction” imposed on Zimbabwe almost two decades ago.
“We are pleading with you, if we made mistakes as Zimbabweans, we say ‘to err is human’; please forgive us and remove sanctions as they are hurting ordinary Zimbabweans,” Bishop Felix Mukonowengwe, spokesperson of the group told reporters in Harare Tuesday.
“As church leaders, we spent most of the time with congregates who are ordinary people and we can tell you that if the sanctions are targeted at individuals and firms, these restrictive measures are now affecting all Zimbabweans.
“To err is human; please let’s dialogue and educate us on issues of human rights as we move towards mending broken relationships.”
The US and Europe slapped former President Robert Mugabe, his inner circle and associated firms with targeted sanctions in 2001 and 2003.
The measures were imposed in response to alleged poll theft and rights abuses by the Harare administration.
Zimbabwean authorities have argued the sanctions were imposed as punishment for a government move to seize tracts of farmland from the hands of a white minority population of European descent for redistribution to landless black locals.
In his comments on behalf of the Elders, Reverend Murombedzi Kuchera said sanctions were never justified, as the land reform is a non-negotiable issue.
“They (white settlers) took our land by force and we took it back. So there was nothing wrong with that as we reclaimed back what belonged to us which is our land,” Kuchera said.
“Sanctions should never have been imposed in the first place.”
The call by the Council of Elders comes ahead of a government organised national anti-sanctions campaign October 25.
The campaign is a SADC initiative reached during the political bloc’s August summit in Tanzania during which the regional leaders agreed to stage activities in their respective countries to call on the US and Europe to unconditionally scrap their sanctions against Zimbabwe.