Written by Vusimuzi Bhebhe
Thursday, 03 March 2011 16:52
HARARE – US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, has poured cold water on Zanu (PF)’s anti-sanctions petition, describing the move as a desperate “political messaging campaign” unlikely to be taken seriously by both Zimbabweans and outsiders.
In an open letter to the state-owned Herald daily over full-page colour anti-sanctions adverts placed by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party but which the paper passed off as Government of Zimbabwe announcements, Ray said the recently launched petition was discredited because it does not represent the aspirations of all Zimbabweans, most
of whom desperately want to see political change.
“Petitions are great things. On any given day, thousands of petitions are circulating in the US. But a petition becomes a wretched thing when only one section of the population is allowed the right to express its views publicly, while others seeking the right to assemble, petition, and demonstrate are arrested and tortured,” Ray noted.
Mugabe last Wednesday launched a petition calling for the lifting of a raft of Western visa restrictions and asset freezes imposed on himself and more than 100 senior Zanu (PF) officials. The party is seeking two million signatures and has threatened to seize foreign companies from countries that have imposed a travel and financial restrictions on Mugabe and his inner circle.
Thousands of people, mainly brought from outside the capital and Harare, were forced to attend the campaign ceremony yesterday. Ray accused The Herald and the rest of the state media of misleading the nation by claiming that the anti-sanctions campaign was a government project.
“Zanu (PF) is a political party, which does not speak for the Government of this great country. Additionally, Zanu (PF), which is part of the Government, has its own symbol that is quite distinct from the Zimbabwean coat of arms,” the ambassador. Mugabe’s partner in the coalition government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, boycotted the launch ceremony on Wednesday, arguing that it had been promoted as a Zanu (PF) event.
Zanu (PF) is hoping to use the petition to lobby the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to push for the removal of the targeted measures. Ray insisted that the restrictive US measures are aimed at less than 120 Zimbabwean officials and are not hurting the rest of the economy.
“They may not travel to the US or do business with US companies because Americans do not want them to enjoy the fruits of their corruption on our soil. This does not hurt other Zimbabweans,” he said, adding “What hurts the rest of the country is the corruption, mismanagement, and lack of social investment that has brought development to a standstill.” Ray commented as US President Barak Obama extended by another year American sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies.