By A Correspondent- Efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to get the Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to seek help for the removal of sanctions face headwinds after the cleric said there would be no mercy for “thieves” looting the country’s resources.
Welby met clergymen from Zimbabwe that formed part of Mnangagwa’s bloated delegation of about 100 officials who flew to Glasgow, Scotland, early this month to attend the COP26 climate summit.
But, in a video of the meeting, the archbishop’s response was clear that any form of sanctions relief would only benefit the poorest and not those “stealing” what was not theirs from the country.
The clerics were tasked to meet Welby to make a case against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United Kingdom (UK), which they claimed had been “stymying Zimbabwe’s normal, interactive development since 2000”.
“The present sanctions are crippling the poor,” Andrew Wutawunashe said during the meeting.
“Even now, we had the UN [United Nations] rapporteur who came and confirmed the same, investigated everything and discovered that the sanctions are actually doing the same, destroying infrastructure that is supposed to be for the poor and common people and destroying employment.
Now we are requesting your voices and we felt in particular that your voice, if you are able to make a request you would help us, you would help political powers that be to have a bit of conscience for the suffering of the poor.”
In a terse response, Welby said he would go through the document which the Zimbabwe delegation penned, titled Sanctions Relief Initiative, and discuss with relevant authorities, while insisting that the move would only be meant to protect the poor.
“Thank you very much. This is very, very important. I will obviously read this later today. I will discuss it with people here and see how we can advocate for the poorest while ensuring that those who steal from the country what is not theirs, be themselves not the beneficiaries (and) don’t benefit from the relief of the sanctions,” he said.
The Zimbabwean government described the meeting with Welby as a breakthrough.
The Zimbabwean clergymen that engaged Welby included Wutaunashe, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Churches’ Sanctions Relief Initiative, Roman Catholic priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, Zion Christian Church leader and patron of the Zimbabwe Indigenous Interdenominational Council of Churches, bishop Nehimiah Mutendi, reverend Felix Mukonowengwe of Harvest Time Ministries and member of the Elders Forum, Elizabeth Karonga of the Roman Catholic Church and a member of the Zimbabwe Elders Forum, bishop Peter Zvanaka Mukwena of Worldwide Family of God Church, bishop Trevor Manhanga of Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Zimbabwe and Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, and bishop Farai Katsande of the Zimbabwe Council of Pentecostal Churches.
The UK has insisted that the targeted measures will only go after the Zanu-PF-led government ends human rights abuses and corruption, which it says were causing economic hardships.
Last year, the UK added onto its sanctions list members of the securocrats that include former Presidential Guard boss Anselem Sanyatwe, Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Isaac Moyo and Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga for their alleged involvement in human rights violations.