Churches ask UK to remove sanctions

Churches yesterday met British head of Political and Public Affairs John Culley to follow-up on a petition against sanctions which they said were hurting ordinary Zimbabweans.

The meeting was held at the British Embassy in Harare and was attended by Zimbabwe Amalgamated Council of Churches (ZACC) members, the African Union’s (AU) Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) members and country representative Tamuka Magwenzi among others.

Briefing journalists after their meeting, Zacc head of media Davison Gomo said the churches told the Brits about the adverse impact of sanctions on trade, investment inflows, and the country’s political risk profile and reputation. Gomo said churches also queried why other countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and DRC were not placed under sanctions yet had serious human rights violations during elections, including xenophobia. 

This comes after the United States (US) and European Union (EU) also extended sanctions for another year citing gross human rights violations. Zacc patron Jimayi Muduvuri called for the pin-pointing of the villains so that they don’t include ordinary Zimbabweans in the equation.

Culley reportedly insisted that the sanctions did not hurt ordinary people and singled out targeted people such as Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, Defence Forces commander Valerio Sibanda and Lands minister Perrance Shiri as the people targeted by the special measures and other State entities. 

The British diplomat also emphasised that the sanctions were imposed as a result of electoral theft, the crushing of civil liberties and rights abuses, which the regime continues to do.  Culley reported said the August 1, 2018 and January 2019 violent army crackdown prompted superpowers to relent on removing sanctions from Zimbabwe.  

“They believe that there are circumstances that still justify the continuance of sanctions,” Gomo said.  “The costs that arise from sanctions are just too huge for a small country like us to bear...the sanctions don’t comply with international law...they are not legitimate… as there is no provision in the United Nations (UN) for unilateral sanctions except as authorised by the UN security council.” 

The churches will also be meeting the US and EU next week on their quest to call for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.