MATABELELAND and the Midlands yesterday joined the rest of the country and the Sadc region in commemorating Anti-Sanctions Day with Bulawayo Province holding the event at the National Railways of Zimbabwe train station, in symbolic representation of how the embargo has affected industries.
Illegal sanctions have led to deindustrialisation of Bulawayo and NRZ, which at one point was the employer of choice, is now a pale shadow of its former self.
Bulawayo residents participated in the anti-sanctions march whose procession commenced outside Mhlahlandlela Government Complex along 10th Avenue, turning left into Fort Street and then 8th Avenue.
It moved and made a turn right into Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street at the site of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo statue before making another turn into 13th Avenue.
The march ended at NRZ car park where speeches were made.
The procession, which included Zion Christian Church (ZCC) band members, attracted scores of residents including members of the business community and church leaders.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube was represented by permanent secretary for provincial affairs and devolution Mr Paul Nyoni.
Minister Ncube commended Sadc for standing with Zimbabwe against the embargo.
She said Zimbabwe could have reached greater heights had it not been affected by the illegal sanctions that have crippled economic productivity.
“Zimbabwe has been under economic sanctions since 2001 and this has adversely affected our country’s economy. Without these unjustified sanctions, Zimbabwe’s economy would be thriving.
“The illegal sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom and its allies are targeted at key sectors of the economy. This has depressed economic performance and undermined service delivery,” she said.
Minister Ncube said United Nations Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan’s report on illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe has clearly spelt out that the embargo is a human rights violation.
Minister Ncube said while sanctions inhibit economic growth, Government has made strides to improve people’s lives.
“In Bulawayo Metropolitan and across Zimbabwe various projects are being implemented by the Second Republic which include, Lake Gwayi Shangani, resuscitation of Cold Storage Company, revamping of locomotives at NRZ to mention but a few,” said Minister Ncube.
“Devolution has also seen schools and roads being constructed and resuscitation of water reticulation and sewage management systems. Sanctions have, however, undermined the province’s capacity to respond fully to socio-economic challenges.”
She said sanctions must be lifted for Bulawayo and Zimbabwe to achieve full potential.
Speaking during the same event, Council of Churches in Africa president Dr Rocky Moyo said ordinary citizens were feeling the effects of the illegal sanctions.
He said the church bears testimony to how sanctions have impacted on the people.
“The economy is in tatters as a result of illegal sanctions which have been imposed against Zimbabwe by our detractors.
The situation has reached another level and ordinary congregants are not free to operate in a country which is struggling.
“Today marks a historic call from the ecumenical umbrella body representing indigenous churches in Africa, as we join everyone in denouncing illegal sanctions which have been imposed against Zimbabwe,” he said.
Dr Moyo commended Sadc region and Africa for standing with Zimbabwe against the embargo.
In Matabeleland North, Lupane Centre reverberated into song and dance as hundreds of people from across the province converged at the bus terminus to march against the illegal sanctions.
The crowd comprised heads of Government departments, Lupane residents, traditional leaders, Zanu-PF members and pupils from surrounding schools among others.
Pupils recited poems as they also entertained the crowd through song and dance, all in one message of denouncing the illegal sanctions.
While some events were also held in Victoria Falls, Hwange and other districts, the main provincial event was in Lupane where Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo delivered a speech.
The proceedings started with a march around Lupane Centre and residential areas.
Solidarity speeches were made by the Zanu-PF Youth League, Teachers4ED, Pastors4ED, Women4ED, Councillors4ED, Children of War Veterans and War Veterans League representatives.
In his speech, Minister Moyo said sanctions should go unconditionally as they were affecting citizens and development in general.
“We stand together today joining our hands and voices in calling for the unconditional lifting of the punitive barrier. Our nation continues to unjustly suffer under sanctions imposed by the Western countries and their allies and our own kinsmen who called for their sanctions in their wisdom or lack of it.
“As Matabeleland North together with the entire nation we call for the unconditional removal of the sanctions.
Your coming out to this march in such great members today is a clear testimony that we do not want the sanctions and we are ready to defend the gains of the liberation struggle,” Minister Moyo.
He said sanctions were a war against the people of Zimbabwe, but the Second Republic had made giant steps through the National Development Strategy (NDS1).
Minister Moyo reminded the country’s detractors that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again and devolution projects had proven to be a success in Matabeleland North despite the sanctions.
“With the initiatives like road rehabilitation programmes, construction of provincial hospital and clinics, schools, water and sewerage systems, we have benefited greatly from devolution funds,” he said.
The minister said major projects such as construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani, Hwange Thermal Station Unit 7 and 8 expansion and Bulawayo pipeline will create employment for local communities and development of downstream economic activities.
Road projects under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme, Agriculture programmes such as Intwasa and water projects were transforming the province, he said.
“I can guarantee that every village in Matabeleland North will soon have a borehole and a horticultural programme. Additionally, youth-focused economic hubs will be built.
We are on track to become an economic powerhouse as our nation keeps progressing,” he said.
In Matabeleland South Province, people braved the scorching heat to march against illegal sanctions.
The procession started from Glow Garage in Gwanda and moved through the town centre up to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works provincial office.
Addressing people that gathered after the march, Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Cde Abedinico Ncube applauded people from the province for expressing their patriotism by joining the rest of the country in marking the Anti-sanctions Day.
He said the province has recorded significant development even in the wake of illegal sanctions.
“Development in the province such as modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post and the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Highway are both outstanding examples of what we can do as the citizens of the country even in this wave of economic sanctions.
We thank our brothers in the Sadc region for their continued solidarity against the illegal sanctions,” he said.
Hundreds of patriotic Zimbabweans from across the length and breadth of Midlands Province thronged Gokwe Centre today to mark the Anti-sanctions Day.
Mr Charles Manhire, director of human resources in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, who represented Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, later addressed the crowds.
He said the West and her erstwhile allies should take heed of the African voice calling for the lifting of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“The people have spoken so we ask the West, who imposed these illegal sanctions, to do the humble thing and lift these illegal sanctions on our country,” he said.
Some of the ordinary citizens who attended the event said the sanctions were hitting them hard.
“It’s us in rural areas here on the peripheries who are hard hit by these illegal sanctions, these world bullies should just remove the sanctions on our country,” said Mrs Mary Jonga.