U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray said this week that although the United States and other countries have maintained sanctions on senior ZANU-PF figures including President Robert Mugabe, such restrictions should not be used as an excuse to neglect the needs of the Zimbabwean people in unaffected sectors.
VOA Studio 7 correspondent Taurai Shava reported from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, that Ray described the issue of sanctions, which President Mugabe and ZANU-PF have placed at the center of not only U.S.-Zimbabwean relations but discussions within the unity government including the Movement for Democratic Change, as "smoke without fire."
Earlier, Ambassador Ray met over breakfast with civic activists to hear about the problems of the Matabeleland region. Organizations represented included the activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Churches in Bulawayo, and the Christian Alliance.
Bulawayo Agenda Director Anastasia Moyo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that activists focused on the region’s continued marginalization in terms of infrastructure and social issues.