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Zimbabwean Opposition Leader says People, Not Sanctions, Can Change Country

  • Peter Clottey

A leading opposition figure said changing the way Zimbabwe operates is the primary responsibility of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Simba Makoni, an independent candidate in Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential election, told VOA, while U.S. sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and about 100 political and financial backers are having some effect, he questions whether they will bring about the changes needed in the area of human rights and political freedom.

“I’m sure many people will not be surprised by that conclusion by the U.S government because those of us who live here notice no major difference in the conditions under which we live compared to 2008 and going back. So, it was a pretty well understandable position for the U.S government to take.”

The U.S government has imposed targeted measures, including financial and visa sanctions, against Zimbabwe’s leader and his allies until there are improvements in freedoms and respect for human rights.

Simba Makoni

Simba Makoni

The State Department said in a statement last week that “as long as human rights violations, land seizures, and intimidation of those participating in the political process continue, the sanctioned individuals and entities on the list who continue to perpetrate and benefit from these acts are unlikely to be removed.”

Mr. Mugabe has described the sanctions as “illegal.”

Makoni said he is not surprised by Washington’s decision maintain the sanctions until President Mugabe and his allies respect freedoms and human rights.

“I’m not aware of any occasion (Mr.) Mugabe has to talk about the situation and not complain about what he calls illegal sanctions. That already shows that he is worried about it. We are aware that many of those individuals who are affected by those measures would prefer not to be (a) target of those measures. So, I think the measures have an effect.”

Makoni, however, said it is unlikely that the U.S. imposed sanctions will change the behavior of President Mugabe and his close allies. He called on people who describe themselves as friends of Zimbabwe to help in the effort to change the fortunes of the southern African country.

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