Mutare — People in rural areas should gladly enjoy financial donations by international aid agencies in the form of relief projects but should go on to vote Zanu PF during election time, Minister of State for Manicaland province has said.
Ellen Gwaradzimba was speaking during a meeting convened by the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Council of Churches (ZACC) and an organisation called Coalition against Sanctions at Mutare Hall recently.
The meeting sought to denounce Western imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe.
"The sanctions are not targeted but they were imposed on the country so that citizens could rise up against a democratically elected government," said the Minister.
Government insists the measures imposed by the US in 2001 and the European Union 2003 were a form of retaliation against the Zanu PF led administration for daring to seize tracts of fertile land from the hands of a white Zimbabwean minority for redistribution to landless black locals, from the turn of the century.
The West has maintained the measures were targeted at a few individuals and firms accused of committing and supporting gross human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Since the time, Zimbabwe has struggled to maintain its breadbasket status as the new landowners have found it tough to scale the pre-2000 production levels witnessed when whites were in control of the farms.
The problem has been worsened by poor rainfall which has lowered yields in the process, creating a food dependent population.
Rural areas such as Buhera and Marange in Manicaland survive on subsistence farming but climate change has not spared the districts.
Relief agencies have moved in to assist vulnerable communities with food assistance, but this has often unsettled authorities who feel the philanthropic organisations were pushing a regime change agenda against the Zanu PF government.
But Gwaradzimba had a plan for those targeted for forms of aid by the relief agencies.
"We know they (NGOs) are all over in rural areas under the guise of being donors dolling out money to our people.
"What we should do is raise awareness on our people so that they accept the money but they should know where to put their X," she said, adding, "you cannot refuse money because life is hard nowadays".
She admitted citizens were suffering, adding "people should eat but should be wise".
The minister told the meeting that the Westerners were targeting former commercial farms in constituencies which were won by opposition parties as their launch pad for regime change.
"They want an uprising in the country so that you topple President Mnangagwa's government," she said.
Gwaradzimba said Britton Woods institutions were arm-twisting government to implement policies which are not pro-poor so that locals could suffer and revolt.
"They come up with policies which are not pro-poor. If you want loans, you have to comply with their economic structural adjustment programmes. They will demand you to retrench your civil service and stop free education policies so that people suffer," said Gwaradzimba.
She likened sanctions to genocide saying western countries only targeted countries that they had interests in.