Mutare — THE US envoy's nightmarish tour of Manicaland continued yesterday when he came face-to-face with more demonstrations from residents demanding the lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by his country and its Western allies.
Mr David Bruce Wharton got more than he bargained for during his tour of the American Corner at the Turner Memorial Library in Mutare city centre after one of the female demonstrators confronted him in her undergarments, forcing him to beat a hasty retreat and abandon the whole mission.
The demonstrators were waving placards, some of them inscribed "We say no to illegal sanctions", "Zidera killed companies like Cairns, Zimboard, Karina, NRZ", "Zidera The Weapon of Regime Change", and "Zimbabwe Will Never Be A Colony Again", among other placards.
Before being confronted by the angry residents, Mr Wharton had a closed-door meeting with the city fathers at the Civic Centre in the morning.
In an interview, one of the demonstrators, Mrs Sheila Mutsenhu, said as patriotic Zimbabweans they wanted the sanctions imposed on the country lifted immediately.
"Illegal sanctions which were imposed on our beautiful country by the US and her Western allies are long overdue and should go.
"Unemployment and poverty are rife in the country, while our hospitals have no medicines, yet we have ambassadors coming here on a mission to hoodwink us with a few dollars.
"We are not a nation of beggars, we want to be productive, but the sanctions are making everything impossible," she said.
Another demonstrator, Mr Michael Bamu, said people were suffering, yet they were willing to work.
"Zimbabweans are well known for their hard work, but they are wallowing in abject poverty because of the sanctions imposed on the country.
"The ambassador should feel for all these suffering souls. What developmental project is he talking about during his tour? A few projects benefiting a few individuals? Shame on him! We want our industries to be revived so that all idle people can contribute towards the economic development of the country," he said.
In an interview, the US Embassy's deputy public affairs officer, Ms Jillian Bonnardeaux, said the demonstrations were an expression of the people's feelings.
"People should be able to express themselves like what they are doing through these demonstrations. We are here in Manicaland to have a feel of what is happening in the province as well as touring some of the projects being sponsored by the US government.
"We got the message being expressed by the people that they are looking for jobs and they are blaming that on sanctions.
"There is a difference between the Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic Recovery Act and targeted sanctions. Our Secretary of State, Mrs Hillary Clinton, recently said sanctions will only be removed if conditions change, but nothing has changed for the sanctions to be lifted," she said.
Ms Bonnardeaux said the US government would continue assessing the prevailing situation, adding that they are never happy to see people suffering.
The US government, together with its European allies, have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe which have been condemned by progressive forces in Africa, Latin America and Asia.