US and EU embassies in Zimbabwe said the anti-sanctions day held in the country on Sunday was a distraction from the real issues.
As such, it won’t help the government meet the strong reform agenda set out by President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he came to power soon after the November 2017 coup.
UK ambassador to Harare Melanie Robinson argued that sanctions cannot be blamed for the situation Zimbabwe finds itself in.
“It’s not sanctions, it’s corruption that drives away investors and leaves teachers, doctors, nurses and services struggling. Zimbabweans must be free to expose corruption, rights abuses and see perpetrators face justice,” she said.
Sadc member states this week rallied behind Zimbabwe in calling for the removal of sanctions imposed at the turn of the century when Harare embarked on gross human rights violations.
Sadc chair Dr Stergomena Tax, in a statement ahead of Sunday’s commemorations, said: “Sanctions have caused suffering among Zimbabweans and continue to have a far-reaching effect on Zimbabwe and the entire Sadc region.”
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun added his voice to Zimbabwe’s call.
In a tweet he said: “Injustices in international relations forced developing countries into subjugation and poverty & still hold them back in independently choosing a path of development. #ZimSanctionsMustGo.”
But the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian A Nichols, said a lot of energy is used by Zimbabwe to rally other Sadc member states. All this to call for the end of the trade and travel restrictions imposed on Mnangagwa’s government, companies and individuals aligned to it. But if that energy was channelled into reform, the country would greatly improve.
“I think if the government of Zimbabwe put the energy that they put into organising these types of events and generating statements from other Sadc members into pursuing the reform agenda the better.
“The government of Zimbabwe campaigned and talked about reform three years ago in November 2017 and 2018 at the inauguration of President Mnangagwa. If they have events on the reform agenda and the conditions, the restrictive measures that the US, the EU, Canada, Australia and others have imposed would be met.
“I think this is a hollow exercise in that it does not solve the interests of the people of Zimbabwe,” he told journalists.
It is the second year that the anti-sanctions solidarity day is being held.