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Just 4 unarmed riot officers at US Embassy sanctions protest; activists demand return of British pound in place of US$

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent 


ONLY four anti-riot police officers were deployed at the US Embassy where not more than 30 anti-sanctions activists marched against restrictions put in place mainly for Zanu PF officials by the American government.

The unarmed officers did not pay much attention to the march, with some taking time to visit the nearby Westgate shopping complex in the middle of the protest.

In comparison, protests by opposition political party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) have either been barred by the police or been dismantled violently by truckloads of armed officers across the country.

Organised by Broad Alliance Against Sanctions (BAAS), a Zanu PF aligned anti-sanctions grouping based outside the US Embassy in Westgate, Harare, the protest was meant to pressurise the American government into removing restrictions, about six days from Anti-Sanctions Day on October 25.

“We are representing 15 million people here. Even if we are few, the voice is the same,” said Obert Kunze, a war veteran who attended in solidarity.

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Protesters made their way to the back entrance of the embassy, where officials dump their waste, from tents along Flame Lily Drive in Westgate where some of them have been resident for the past 1 298 days demonstrating.

They then made their way back, about three hundred metres, to the front where they were politely asked by police officers to stand across Flame Lily Drive, besides their tents.

Protesters demanded compensation for slavery and scrapping of the US dollar as legal tender. They demanded that the British pound be used instead.

“We demand compensation for the slave trade, America was built by blacks, and we were never compensated, we suffered a lot,” said one elderly protester pacing at the back of the embassy.

“We no longer want to use the American dollar, we want the British pound because they are our former colonial masters not the Americans. We want the pounds.

“We were under Queen Elizabeth, she was the one who governed this country.”

Despite promising not to in 2017, ruling Zanu PF has blamed restrictions on its officials, businesses and benefactors as the primary reason it has failed to ensure economic recovery and growth over the past two decades.

America and the European Union, on the other hand, have disputed the claims which have been taken up to the African Union (AU).

A handful of Zanu PF members and benefactors who include late President Robert Mugabe have been removed from the sanctions list, most of them after passing on.