Zimbabwe's President EmmersonMnangagwa on Friday described Western sanctions as a "cancer" sappingthe economy, and his supporters denounced the measures during marches heldaround the southern African country.
Mnangagwa's opponents stayed awayfrom the demonstrations, saying they were a distraction from the president'smishandling of the economy, which is grappling with 18-hour daily power cutsand shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines.
Mnangagwa has so far failed tounify the country since taking over from the late Robert Mugabe, who was oustedin a coup in 2017. Hopes of a swift recovery have faded as the economystruggles to exit its deepest crisis in a decade.
Mnangagwa, like Mugabe, blamesthe sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union since 2001 forthe economic ills and sees them as a tool to remove the ruling ZANU-PF partyfrom power.
"Every part and sector ofour economy has been affected by these sanctions like a cancer," Mnangagwatold a few thousand supporters inside a 60,000-seater national stadium."Enough is enough, remove them. Remove these sanctions now!"
Earlier, 7,000 governmentsupporters led by Mnangagwa's wife Auxillia and bussed from across Zimbabwemarched for 5 km to the national stadium in the capital Harare.
Singing and dancing, they wavedplacards inscribed "No sanctions, no discrimination, sanctions new versionof slavery," and "Enough is enough, remove sanctions now."
"We have no jobs because ofthe sanctions. America wants to remove ZANU-PF from power through sanctions butwe will defend the party and our president," said 32-year-old MartinMafusire.
Similar marches were heldthroughout Zimbabwe after Mnangagwa declared Friday a public holiday.