15 December 2017

Zimbabwe: United States Sanctions Rhetoric Exposed

Prominent civil society activist and Africa Union Ambassador on Child Marriages Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda's overwhelming nomination for the Cable News Network Hero Award came unstuck due to the US sanctions policy on Zimbabwe, exposing the myth the embargo is targeted at Zanu-PF and Government officials.

The CNN Hero is a television special created by CNN to honour individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities.

Writing on her Facebook wall, Ms Gumbonzvanda, who is the founder of Rozaria Memorial Trust and has won numerous awards in her fight against child marriages said: "Nominated or CNN Hero and considered ineligible because of US position on #Zimbabwe.

"I extend my profound appreciation to the many Zimbabwean and global friends who put forward my name for consideration this year for the CNN Hero. I will be forever grateful, always, nekusingaperi. On reading the fine print, we discovered that citizens of countries under US sanctions were not eligible for consideration.

"I felt sad for the many who had worked hard on this nomination. I also felt angry that I was being penalised for crimes committed by others. Any call for sanctions must be restricted to ensure that sanctions are targeted and apply to those who abuse rights and should not extend to ordinary citizens. Best wishes to all the 2017 nominees."

Ms Gumbonzvanda could not be reached for comment as she had not responded to various inquiries sent to her, but according to the rules of the competition contained on the CNN website, citizens from "voided countries" are ineligible to enter or win the competition.

Reads part of the rules: "The awards programme is open to eligible nominees worldwide, who are citizens of countries other than voided countries (defined below).

'Citizens of voided countries are ineligible to enter or win . . . CNN may determine in its sole discretion at any time during the awards programme that a country is a voided country."

The voided countries include those sanctioned under the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which listed Zimbabwe, and has intercepted millions of dollars accruing to Zimbabwean companies. Political analyst Tafadzwa Mugwadi said the decision confirmed that sanctions on Zimbabwe were not targeted.

"The decision smacks of hypocrisy as it confirms the reality of its illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe and the potential of its people. It is quite shameful that the US is still captured in the past at a time when the world is competing to warm and charm our talents and our country," he said.

"One would have expected the American civilisation as it were, to rethink its regrettable policies against our country and its people rather than remain stuck in the past," said Mr Mugwadi.

The abortion of Ms Gumbonzvanda's nomination comes at a time the MDC-Alliance has despatched a three-member delegation; comprising Messrs Tendai Biti, Nelson Chamisa and Welshman Ncube; to the United States to urge the Trump administration to maintain its illegal sanctions regime on Zimbabwe.

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