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ZIMBABWE Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) has called on the Western Countries to unconditionally remove economic sanctions arguing the measures have caused untold suffering on innocent citizens.

In a note on sanctions removal addressed to the visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan, the Christians group criticised sanctions for failing to serve their intended purposes

“The ZHOCD has demonstrated that these various sanctions regimes have not achieved their intended purpose after more than 20 years, are devoid of a broader national settlement framework, and remain elitist and exclude the participation of citizens,” ZHOCD said.

The Christian heads said according to the USA, the sanctions are meant to cause the improvement of democracy, promotion of human rights and enhancement of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

On the one hand, the leaders observed, the EU does not view sanctions as punishment per se but as an “instrument of a diplomatic or economic nature which seeks to bring about a change in activities or policies such as violations of international law or human rights, or policies that do not respect the rule of law or democratic principles”.

“Rather these sanctions have been used by some to justify government’s failure to provide services and national development, created Zimbabwe as a negative investment environment in a way negatively affecting ordinary citizens and not those targeted,” the church group said.

ZHOCD said those who have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe have closed any meaningful communication doors with the government of Zimbabwe so that they have not been able to influence other aspects of democratic development.

The church leaders said the sanctions discussion should not be dealt with outside the broader national challenges.

“One big challenge is that the sanctions conversation has excluded the participation of citizens. For this reason, we are grateful that in your fact-finding mission, you have decided to engage citizens,” ZHOCD said.

The church leaders said real participation happens when an International Re-Engagement Forum on Zimbabwe is established in which different citizens’ groups are involved.

The grouping said the current reengagement dialogues tend to be secretive and are not accessible to the public.

“In light of the above, as the ZHOCD, we call for the removal of all sanctions on Zimbabwe and for the government of Zimbabwe to address the issues raised by the sanctions regimes through a citizen cantered process,” added ZHOCD.

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