Veteran Zimbabwean ruler, Mr Robert Mugabe has ordered an immediate product boycott of all foreign firms operating in Zimbabwe, particularly European, in a bid to force the West to remove economic sanctions.
Mr Mugabe made the announcement in front of thousands of his Zanu Pf supporters in Harare at the National Anti-sanctions Petition Campaign launch.
The ruling party, Zanu PF hopes to collect a total of seven million signatures “from suffering Zimbabweans” to show the West that Zimbabweans are “fed up with the sanctions”.
Waving tiny national flags, Zanu PF youths were marching this morning from Harare’s townships. The biggest vegetable market in Mbare has been closed and vendors force marched to the signing ceremony in protest against European and US sanctions.
Stirred up by Zanu PF flag bearer, Robert Mugabe, the energized party supporters, clad in Zanu PF branded T-shirts and caps, sang and danced as they carried banners and placards with “Zimbabwe says NO to illegal sanctions!” in an event beamed live on State TV.
Said Mr Mugabe “Zimbabweans should with immediate effect boycott buying products of foreign owned companies that operate here (Zimbabwe) … they imposed unjust sanctions on us which are not recognized by United Nations.
“ We have to hit back” said Mr Mugabe.
Although Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai boycotted the event, captains of industry and business leaders, church leaders, traditional leaders, leaders of farming organisations and service chiefs were present.
The 27-nation European bloc in February extended for another year its sanctions on Zimbabwe, including an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on Mr Mugabe and other top officials last month.
In 2002 and 2003, the United States placed financial and visa restrictions on some Zimbabwean individuals, banned transfers of military supplies and suspended non-humanitarian aid to the government. In 2005, it included family members of those originally targeted.
Zanu-PF says the National Anti-sanctions’ Petition Campaign provides an opportunity to show global bullies that the illegal embargo is not targeted but affects all Zimbabweans hence the need for the majority to actively participate in the crusade.
Secretary for Information and Publicity, Mr Rugare Gumbo said the launch of the petition against sanctions will demystify the notion by the west that the sanctions are targeted yet in actual fact they have caused untold suffering to the majority of Zimbabweans and ravaged the country’s economy.
“The initiative will provide a splendid opportunity for Zimbabweans to denounce the sanctions and demystify the notion that they are targeted while many people are suffering,” said Mr Gumbo.
At the launch, Zimbabweans from all walks of life including civil servants and workers from various economic sectors who have been hard-hit by sanctions in the last decade, are appending their signatures to this document.
On Saturday (February 26) Mr Mugabe in marked his 87th birthday during which he said government was taking over Nestle Zimbabwe because it refused to buy his milk.
He said “Nestle refused to buy milk from Gushungo dairies. I told (Youth Development, Indeginisation and Empowerment minister Saviour) Kasukuwere to begin with them and tell them he was sent by Gushungo” he said “We should deal with them; let them get out of the country.”
Gushungo is Mr Mugabe’s totem.
In 2009, Nestle bowed to international pressure and stopped buying milk from Gushungo Holdings, a company owned by the Mugabe family.
This led to a major fallout between the governments which accused the Swiss based company of applying sanctions on Mugabe’s family.