MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday said the government was using sanctions to divert Zimbabweans’ attention from its failure to deliver on promises to improve citizens’ lives.
The government last night organised a virtual gala to ostensibly put pressure on western countries to lift the sanctions imposed nearly two decades ago.
Last year a similar rally held at the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium attracted a paltry crowd of 7 000 people despite the government dangling food to the revellers.
Chamisa told The Standard in an interview that last night’s event and the government’s campaign against sanctions through the public media was a distraction.
“Zimbabweans should take the day as an opportunity to imagine a better future without hunger, poverty, police brutality, abductions, and corruption,” he said.
“It’s a collective task for every Zimbabwean to imagine a Zimbabwe without the vices of bad governance from the current government.”
He added: “This should be a day of intercession, pastors, bishops and priests should reflect on the real source of the problems Zimbabweans face.
“It should be a solidarity day to the suffering of Zimbabweans and victimised citizens.”
Zimbabwe has been facing its worst economic crisis in a decade characterised by high prices of goods, liquidity challenges, increased poverty levels as well as unemployment.
Mnangagwa and his ruling party have blamed the sanctions for the problems.
When he came to power, Mnangagwa said sanctions should never be used as a scapegoat for failure.
But two months as president, Mnangagwa changed course when the economy deteriorated and started blaming the sanctions for the meltdown.
His party has also accused Chamisa and one of his deputies, Tendai Biti, of inviting the sanctions.
Mnangagwa’s government has lobbied the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to back its anti-sanctions call.
Chamisa, however, said the biggest challenges facing Zimbabwe today included “bad governance, corruption, illegitimacy of the government emanating from a stolen mandate and not sanctions”.
He said Zanu PF was good at explaining causes of problems, and not solutions because it was aware that sanctions were not the major source of the country’s problems.
“Jingles, slogans, adverts, galas, protests will not solve the problem. It is high time Sadc should wake up and smell the coffee,” Chamisa said.
“Let Sadc see its own Zimbabwe without problems.
“Let Sadc do a reality check or it risks being irrelevant to the African problem.”
He added: “Sadc should remove the tinted glasses and have a proper reflection of Zimbabwe.
“Everything is not rosy and Sadc should not see celebratory fireworks where there is a dangerous fire. Sadc should not be part of the problem, but the solution.
“Cheering madness is dangerous because the madness will also affect you as a neighbour.
“You don’t cure a disease by lying to yourself.”
Chamisa dismissed charges that he and his party campaigned for the sanctions.
“Chamisa is not a god, he is not a state that rap_es people, abducts people. Chamisa is not billions of dollars that disappear,” he charged.
“Chamisa is also not the one who manipulates the institutions of the state.
“Don’t give me the powers that I don’t have. I don’t control Washington. I don’t have such powers.”
He said Mnangagwa’s government’s rule was based on lies and deceptions.
“That is why we have a senior government official holding a press conference to announce that Chamisa is training soldiers in (Moldova),” Chamisa added.
“We have officialised lies in order to elevate foolish claims to the level of policy.”
Meanwhile, Chamisa said he was not losing sleep over manoeuvres by the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T to decimate his MDC Alliance.
Mnangagwa last week formally recognised Khupe as the official leader of the opposition after the former deputy prime minister sneaked back into Parliament under controversial circumstances.
“I don’t have time for Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora (interim MDC-T secretary-general),” Chamisa said.
“I know they are simply playing a script handed to them by Zanu PF, enforced by captured institutions.
“They are going nowhere. In fact, they are history. People always settle political disputes.”
Khupe is using a Supreme Court ruling that said she was the legitimate interim leader of the MDC-T after she was elbowed out in the battle to succeed the late Morgan Tsvangirai by Chamisa.
The MDC Alliance, however, insists that it broke ranks with Khupe before the 2018 elections and she has no right to take over legislators and councillors of a party that defeated her in the polls.
— The Standard