The Zanu PF-aligned Broad Alliance Against Sanctions (BASS) yesterday told Parliament that United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols tried to bribe them with cars and houses so that they take their anti-sanctions protest to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s door-step.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Calvin Chitsunge, co-founder and chairperson of the group that has been camped at the US embassy in Harare since March 29 last year, claimed Nichols tried to bribe them so that they take their sanctions protests to State House and Africa Unity Square.
The group appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs led by Makonde MP Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) to speak on a petition they sent to Parliament on December 11 last year.
In the petition, they called for enactment of a Zimbabwe Patriotic Act that could impose a 25-year jail term on people who call for sanctions to be imposed on the country.
“We have been camping outside the US embassy in Harare and we met US officials and told them we were suffering and demonstrating in the rain because we wanted sanctions to be removed,” Chitsunge said.
“They gave us tents and they told us that if we move out of the US embassy premises and pitch our tents at Africa Unity Square near Parliament and at the State House they will reward us with houses and vehicles worth up to US$110 000 each, but we turned that down because we cannot get those goodies while 15 million Zimbabweans are suffering due to sanctions.”
Asked by Paradza to name the US official who told them to pitch tents at State House and Africa Unity Square, spokesperson of the alliance Sally Ngoni said it was Nichols.
“The meeting was chaired by the US ambassador Nichols and he is the one who said he can give us houses and vehicles if we agree to camp at State House and Africa Unity Square,” Ngoni said.
Chitsunge told MPs that their proposed Zimbabwe Patriotic Act must also deal harshly with journalists who write negative stories about Zimbabwe.
“When the proposed Zimbabwe Patriotic Act is enacted, it must impose a mandatory 25-year sentence to anyone who calls for sanctions and that person must never hold public office because they do not have people at heart, and their organisation must also be banned,” Chitsunge said.
She claimed that Nichols cited some of the reasons for sanctions imposed by the US on Zimbabwe as abuse of human rights and lack of democracy.
Chitsunge claimed that the joblessness and even high transport costs suffered by Zimbabweans were caused by sanctions.
Another member of the group Jacob Tshabalala claimed that the company that he used to work for, Merlin, and other companies such as Dunlop, State enterprises and parastatals were affected by sanctions. He said as a result, he lost his job.
But later MPs asked them to explain how they had been supporting their families and Tshabalala said he had several cattle, a farm and chrome mine, in the process contradicting himself on his earlier claims that he was poor. – News Day