BY Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
19 February 2014
The chairperson of newly-formed ‘Zimbabweans Against Sanctions’ lobby group has denied any links with the ruling ZANU PF party.
Mathew Smith, his father Gary and former cricketer Heath Streak, announced the formation of the anti-sanctions group in Harare on Monday.
The group has attracted divided opinion, with many Zimbabweans saying the group is seeking to enamour itself to ZANU PF in order to benefit from the regime’s patronage system.
ZANU PF has already commended the group for “rallying behind President Robert Mugabe” and for speaking against the restrictive measures.
Smith said this was to be expected “because for the first time we have something that we can agree on and the lifting of sanctions affects them more than us, but it does not mean that we are affiliated to them.”
“We are however glad that ZANU PF has come out to support us. We are a completely apolitical group whose main concern is that sanctions are real and are hurting Zimbabweans,” he added.
Smith said his father’s business interests are only in the mining sector, where he is as a director.
“We have operated a contract mining firm in Zimbabwe for the past 20 years and none of the mines we are involved with have any links to ZANU PF. Anyone is free to come and check, we have nothing to hide,” Smith added.
He said none of their mining activities involved diamonds.
Smith insisted that the targeted sanctions were bad for the country, and that the group they had received a lot of support from across the political divide.
“It is a misconception that the (targeted) sanctions were imposed on just a few people because if you check the American ZIDERA (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act) it imposes blanket economic sanctions,” he said.
Earlier this week however, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton said the US targeted sanctions programme seeks to limit the economic activities of a very small number of individuals and entities (113 and 70 respectively) who, “have shown a willful disregard for the rule of law, democratic process, and human rights in Zimbabwe.”
Wharton said everyone else was free to import, export and do business with US firms.
The EU this week suspended restrictions against all ZANU PF members who were on their list, except Mugabe and his wife grace and arms dealer the Zimbabwe Defence Industries.