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Zimbabweans speak out on proposed sanctions. - 2002-03-05

Zimbabweans have reacted differently to the decision by the commonwealth not to suspend their country or impose sanctions against it. Britain sought the support of commonwealth member states to suspend Zimbabwe due to president Robert Mugabe’s alleged bad governance The decision has cheered some Zimbabweans who believe their country does not deserve any form of punishment. Sharing this view is Harare-based businessman Loveridge Maenzanise, " Zimbabwe is a mere victim in this matter. Before we claimed that which is ours, land, we were blue-eyed boys of the west. But now that we are demanding what belongs to us, we should be hated." Mr. Maenzanise says it was regrettable that some Zimbabweans could reflect and support the views of those critical of President Robert Mugabe's style of rule. But Charles Mangongera, a research fellow here in Harare, says the decision by the Commonwealth was a triumph for President Mugabe but a disservice to Zimbabwe. He says, " Mugabe has scored a diplomatic goal by lying to the world that the problem in Zimbabwe is that of land. No, the biggest problem in this country is one of suppression of the freedom of expression." On his part President Mugabe has welcomed the decision not to impose sanctions on his regime. In particular he has congratulated African leaders for their support and urged them to remain united. The Herald newspaper, which appears to write favorably of the Mugabe government says, "African, Caribbean and Asian countries boldly declined to support the British and Australian move which they understood as intended to help the British prime minister, Mr. Tony Blair, to enthrone his surrogate, MDC leader, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai as president of Zimbabwe through the back door." The Commonwealth meeting of heads of state and government has decided to wait for a report from the electoral observer mission in the country before any action could be taken. Zimbabwe goes to the polls this weekend to elect a new president.