MDC Distances Itself From Anti-Sanctions Campaign, Schools Closed

President Robert Mugabe is expected to launch the anti-sanctions drive in Harare on Wednesday amid reports that schools in Harare were ordered to close so that school children can attend.

The anti-Sanctions petition is designed to force the United States of America and the European Union lift targeted sanctions slapped on Mugabe and his inner cabal.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said Tsvangirai will not be part of the programme and will not sign the petition and so will be his party’s officials.

“It’s a Zanu (PF) programme and we are not Zanu (PF). It’s a wrong issue, by the wrong people and for the wrong reasons. You don’t address symptoms without dealing with the causes first. We first have to deal with the issue of governance, human rights issues, people’s freedoms and liberties and then we can start talking about working together.

“It’s something being forced on the people by a few. They can be forced to sign but it’s just a paper commitment. People will go there because they are afraid as they know the kind of people they are dealing with. They can bus in people and close shops but that will not change anything as long as there is no democracy in this country,” said Chamisa.

According to the programme, President Robert Mugabe will be the first to put his signature followed by the two vice-presidents John Nkomo and Joice Mujuru. After that, Tsvangirai is pencilled in to sign followed by his deputies Arthur Mutambara and Thokhozani Khupe.

Meanwhile, Harare was tense on Wednesday morning with shops being closed and people being forced to attend the rally. Cars and commuter omnibuses were being forcibly diverted to the anti-sanctions venue and indications are that most people might not turn up for work on Wednesday.

RadioVOP witnessed police officers diverting kombis and private cars to the anti-sanctions venue at Harare Showgrounds.

Bus loads of people from rural areas were also observed dropping passengers at the venue.

A major bus company, Pionner Buses in Harare has suspended its regular trips to South Africa after it was hired by Zanu (PF) out to ferry the thousands of party supporters expected to attend the anti-sanctions lobby campaign.

All government schools in Harare were on Monday ordered to force-march children to attend the launch.

In interviews with school authorities, parents, pupils and teachers unions, Radio VOP established that schools were closed on Wednesday morning to allow the teachers and pupils to attend the choreographed public event at the Harare Exhibition Park open car park.

“We were instructed on Tuesday by the head master that the whole school is going to attend President Mugabe’s rally at Show grounds,” said a Form Three student at Harare Girl High School, which is a few kilometres from the venue.