A ZANU PF aligned Pressure group on Thursday clocked day twenty eight camped and demonstrating at the United States of America embassy against US imposed targeted sanctions on ZANU PF big wigs.
The National Coordinator of Broad Alliance Against Sanctions Mr. Patson Murimoga (PM) was interviewed by Joseph Andras (JA) of Community Radio Harare.
Below are excerpts of the interview:
JA: We welcome you to our program.
PM: Thank you.
JA: When was the Broad Alliance Against Sanctions formed and what is organizational goal?
PM: Our organization was established on 25 March 2019. Broad Alliance Against Sanctions is an apolitical pressure group formed by poor ordinary citizens who realized that economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are largely contributing to the suffering of the current generation.
JA: How big is your turn out for the camping?
PM: On the first day we were only four demonstrators who included myself, Lisa Ngoni, Kelvin Chitsunge and Tau Mahoni but our number is increasing as each day passes. Currently we are ranging between 90 and 110 campers.
JA: Are you being supported by ZANU PF in this?
PM: At the moment we have not seen any political party coming to join us here but if they do come we will welcome them because these sanctions are affecting all poor people regardless of political affiliation.
JA: How do sanctions affect ordinary poor people.
PM: We hear that sanctions targeted on individuals like Mr. R.G Mugabe but we have never seen Mr. Mugabe queuing for fuel but it is the ordinary man who burns from the heat of fuel shortages.
It is the ordinary man who falls sick and is affected by medication shortages in local hospitals but those who are said to be on targeted list fly overseas to get medical treatment. These sanctions have crippled our economy and the burden of a crippled economy is felt by poor people not rich politicians.
JA: Is it true that there are companies whose directors are on targeted lists and by that virtue, there companies become targeted too?
PM: It is true that there are targeted companies too and those companies are crumbling. Still, at the end of the day it is the ordinary people who suffer because the ordinary people also used to benefit from the targeted companies before the companies were sanctioned. Our point is that those who are targeted by the sanctions are not even affected by the sanction but ordinary people are.
JA: Has the American embassy responded so far during the past 28 days?
PM: Yes they once addressed us. We were addressed by their leaders in the Sanctions Department, Politics Department and their spokesperson. These US officials explain to us that the sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe because of human rights abuse and mismanagement of state resources.
However, we tried to enlighten them by exposing the fact that those who are alleged to have violated human rights are not the ones who are suffering because of sanctions.
We also highlighted that our Government had suspended laws like POSA and AIPA but still sanctions were not lifted. The US officials promised us that they will forward our grievances to their government in USA and give us feedback.
We also promised them that we will camp outside their embassy yard until a positive response comes from the American government.
JA: So what are your daily activities as you camp outside the American Embassy?
PM: We demonstrate peacefully everyday. Since we are not funded by anyone, we do not have money to buy fancy placards so we use card-boxes as our placards. Our message is consistent. We are camping at the American Embassy to demonstrate against sanctions and that’s the message on our placards.
JA: So where are you getting food?
PM: The people in the local Westgate area are providing the food and tents for nocturnal shelter.
JA: Are the people camping at the American embassy from Harare only or they are from different provinces of Zimbabwe?
PM: The camping demonstration is being staged by people from other provinces like Bulawayo, Masvingo and Manicaland but the larger population is from Harare.
JA: So are you saying that all economic Challenges in Zimbabwe are being cause by sanctions?
PM: Whenever we engage Government officials, they tell us that sanctions are the major factor impeding economic development in Zimbabwe. Therefore, we want sanctions to be removed so that the Government officials won’t have an excuse of sanctions anymore.
In other words, sanctions are making it difficult to hold Government officials accountable for the economic challenges we are facing as a nation. We have also heard successful business people like Mr. Strive Masiyiwa stipulating that sanctions are largely responsible for the Zimbabwean economic depression. So if sanctions are affecting rich people like Mr. Masiyiwa, what more poor people in our country?
JA: So are there no other ways of developing our country even in the presence of sanctions?
PM: USA is the major economic powerhouse in the world hence it is difficult to develop under US sanctions.
JA: So when are you planning to go back home?
PM: We are going to camp at the American Embassy until the sanctions are lifted. Even if it takes time we will not surrender.
JA: Do you think that in future the sanctions will be removed?
PM: With God nothing is impossible. Plus the American Ambassador promised that the American and Zimbabwean governments are in continuous sanction removal talks.