THE anti-sanctions musical gala held on Monday night spilling into early yesterday morning at the Harare International Conference Centre lived up to its billing, with the entertainers giving their best on stage to thrill the few at the venue and hordes of viewers who followed from home.
The gala, organised by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, was held under strict Covid-19 regulations with the stipulated 100 people in physical attendance.
It was broadcast live on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Television and other platforms to allow millions to follow the event from home.
The SADC Anti-Sanctions Day is meant to call for the removal of unilateral sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries, which have stalled progress.
The musical gala was attended by Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa, her husband and chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Cde Chris Mutsvangwa, Zanu PF acting secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Mike Bimha and a few others.
Performers at the musical gala included sungura music veteran Nicholas Zakaria, Amos Mahendere, Sandra Ndebele, Romeo Gasa, Agatha Murudzwa, Roki and Chief Hwenje.
Upstarts like Freeman, Mark Ngwazi and Agga Nyabinde were also part of the cast together with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Band.
Speaking at the gala, Minister Mutsvangwa said the sanctions had caused devastating effects on Zimbabwe's economy.
She said Zimbabwe had lived under the yoke of sanctions for over two decades and the spirit of the people had been tested for long, while the resilience of the nation had been stretched beyond imagination.
"Illegal sanctions have triggered a vicious cycle of disabling our country's capability to trade and grow the economy," she said. "The vulnerable groups, especially women, children and child-headed families and people living with disabilities among others continue to suffer the burden of harsh sanctions.
"The genesis of today's anti-sanctions commemorations is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of States summit that was held in Tanzania on the 5th of August 2019. The region resolved to stand with and by Zimbabwe in calling for the unconditional removal of the illegal sanctions.
"The 25th of October was thus set aside as the regional day to call for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe and this is why we are gathered here tonight to commemorate the day through this anti-sanctions show that the Government, through my Ministry has organised."
Minister Mutsvangwa said through an anti-sanctions show, Zimbabwean citizens can be able to tell their story on the impact of sanctions through music, speeches, poems and solidarity messages.
She said the world must know that it was a fallacy that the sanctions were only targeted at a few individuals, but instead run through the heart of social existence.
"The Second Republic, under the leadership of His Excellency, President Mnangagwa, has been resolute in calling for the removal of sanctions and in creating awareness to the world that 'Zimbabwe is a friend to all and enemy to none'," said Minister Mutsvangwa.
"This is why we have heightened our efforts towards engagement and re-engagement.
"Our mantra 'Zimbabwe is Open for Business' is a strategy of the Second Republic to attract foreign direct investment from all corners of the world as we regard everyone as a friend to us and conversely us as a friend to everyone.
"It is in this spirit that we call upon those who imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe to remove them unconditionally."
Minister Mutsvangwa said the lifting of sanctions will help Zimbabwe do much more in the areas of infrastructure development, health, mining, agriculture and tourism.
She said using its own resources, the country had embarked on a development trajectory anchored on the National Development Strategy (NDS1) and the outcomes had been very humbling.
Minister Mutsvangwa said with the removal of sanctions, Zimbabwe was poised for tremendous economic and social growth.
"It is important to note that the UN Human Rights Council draws attention to the unemployment rate, failure to expand the infrastructure, high incidences of poverty, HIV and Aids, low life expectancy and challenges faced by the vulnerable as examples of the negative impact of sanctions in Zimbabwe," she said.
"This proves that the illegal sanctions that were imposed on Zimbabwe for political purpose have violated all the basic human rights of the ordinary Zimbabweans and the norms of international behaviour by denying them their basic human rights. Such action has precipitated man-made human catastrophes.
"In view of the new dispensation thrust on engagement and re-engagement, the sanctions are out of date and irrelevant to the situation that prevails in Zimbabwe. In this regard, they must be removed immediately to allow the country to move towards a national consensus for political stability and economic growth in Zimbabwe through inclusive dialogue."
The musical gala started with a broadcast of President Mnangagwa's speech where he urged Zimbabwean citizens to stand together against the illegal sanctions.