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Zimbabwe Urged to Stop Blaming National Crisis on USA Sanctions

FILE PHOTO: U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton (in jacket and tie), talking to villagers receiving World Food Program (WFP) food aid in Umguza, a rural area in Matabeleland North province, about 400 kilometers southwest of Harare.

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton says Zimbabwe needs to put its house in order and not blame Washington for sanctions imposed on 106 Zanu PF officials.

Mr. Wharton says travel restrictions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle are being abused as they are used each time the Zimbabwean leaders fall short of doing enough for their people.

This comes at a time when President Mugabe told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that America should unconditionally remove what he called the “evil’ sanctions.

In Zimbabwe, Ambassador Wharton, who came face to face Thursday with villagers angered by the sanctions, said these measures are being abused at such events by top Zanu PF members and government officials.

Responding to demonstrators in Mutema communal lands, who denounced the U.S for imposing sanctions, Ambassador Wharton said the restrictive measures were meant to enforce democratic processes in the country.

The placard-waving demonstrators partially disrupted the ambassador’s visit to the area where he was being briefed about the progress in upgrading a 60-hectare banana piece of land being supported through an 800,000 grant by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The hostile villagers urged America to unconditionally remove the sanctions, saying they were hurting common people.

One of the demonstrators, Ward Nine Councillor Tendai Makuyana, urged the ambassador to persuade his country to remove the sanctions.

In his response soon after the demonstrations, Ambassador Wharton said the sanctions are merely travel restrictions which do not affect the people of Zimbabwe.

He said despite the perceived frosty relations between Washington and Harare, the U.S would still continue to assist Zimbabwe in health, education and poverty alleviation programs.

Mr. Wharton also rubbished claims being made by Zanu PF that his country has been secretly working with at least 12 legislators to spy for America.

He said Zimbabwe had great potential to develop if Mr. Mugabe and his colleagues in Zanu PF party are willing to put the best policies in place.

The American top diplomat in the country said there is nothing new in the USA and the USAID cooperating with the Zimbabwe’s elected leadership in development programs.

The ambassador toured Mutema and Chibuwe banana irrigation schemes which the USAID supported in an effort to resuscitate dysfunctional irrigation projects.

The irrigation schemes were destroyed following the devastating Cyclone Eline disaster in 2000. The USAID managed to repair and sink old and new boreholes for the irrigation schemes, buy banana seed and chemicals under a revolving fund.

At least 250 farmers are benefitting from the project, which has been partnered with banana producing company, Matanuska. The company is helping farmers to sell their produce abroad.