MDC Alliance Vice President Tendai Biti has accused the ruling Zanu PF government of abusing its continued reference to sanctions to shield itself from its shortcomings.
The US and the West imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 and 2003 in response to the country’s alleged disregard of the rule of law and poll theft.
However, since then, the government has blamed the restrictive measures for the collapse of the economy over the years, resulting in the majority of Zimbabweans enduring severe hardship.
But, Biti thinks otherwise.
“There is a lot of abuse about that word, that word sanctions in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has trade relations with every country including in China, including the United States of America, including the United Kingdom, including South Africa,” he said Friday.
He was speaking during an online discussion with the US-based Centre for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) on the topic; “The Fight for Democracy and Public Health”.
During the programme, Biti said for sanctions to be lifted, it was incumbent upon Zimbabwe to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law in order for it to be a full member of the international community.
“It is important for Zimbabwe to get its act together. It is so important that Zimbabwe adjusts its behaviour so that we become a full member of the international community that enjoys the same rights and respect as any other country.
“We will get the respect if we also respect our Constitution, if there is constitutionalism, if there is the rule of law. We have to stop stealing elections, rap_ing women, abducting citizens, capturing institutions and of course sending out the military to deal with citizens,” he said.
The Harare East MP added that if the Zimbabwe government was genuinely concerned about improving its external relations, it must also first deal with its internal relations with the public.
“It must address its own relations with its own citizens and that is the way to go. That way any other country will treat us like an equal member. At the present moment, we can’t expect the world to dialogue with us, when we dialogue with our citizens using the baton stick, water canons, rap_ing women, and abducting citizens.
“It won’t work and hasn’t worked. Zimbabwe must restore the social contract, respect its citizens. That way it will earn the respect of the international community and its colleagues in the region.”
Last week, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo was quoted in the media saying international sanctions against the country are causing “untold sufferings” to the population, rather than the leadership.
“The whole gamut of sanctions to this country has caused serious and unintended consequences,” he said.
Moyo also refuted charges that government was responsible for human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
“You must understand exactly where these are being propagated from and where they are coming from. Mainly, the opposition in this country has got this strategy of attention by stage-managing events which should attract the international community’s eyes and concern and in reality, when there’s not been any such an abduction.
“But I can assure you that we have made reforms and these reforms are taking place,” he claimed.