Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday described Western sanctions as a “cancer” sapping the economy, and his supporters denounced the measures during marches held around the southern African country.
Mnangagwa’s opponents stayed away from the demonstrations, saying they were a distraction from the president’s mishandling of the economy, which is grappling with 18-hour daily power cuts and shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines.
Mnangagwa has so far failed to unify the country since taking over from the late Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017. Hopes of a swift recovery have faded as the economy struggles to exit its deepest crisis in a decade.
Mnangagwa, like Mugabe, blames the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union since 2001 for the economic ills and sees them as a tool to remove the ruling ZANU-PF party from power.
“Every part and sector of our economy has been affected by these sanctions like a cancer,” Mnangagwa told a few thousand supporters inside a 60,000-seater national stadium. “Enough is enough, remove them. Remove these sanctions now!”
Earlier, 7,000 government supporters led by Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and bussed from across Zimbabwe marched for 5 km to the national stadium in the capital Harare.
Singing and dancing, they waved placards inscribed “No sanctions, no discrimination, sanctions new version of slavery,” and “Enough is enough, remove sanctions now.”
“We have no jobs because of the sanctions. America wants to remove ZANU-PF from power through sanctions but we will defend the party and our president,” said 32-year-old Martin Mafusire.
Similar marches were held throughout Zimbabwe after Mnangagwa declared Friday a public holiday.