By Cletus Mushanawani
MUTARE – The Mutare woman, Ms Sheila Mutsenhu, who caused a stir when she stripped before United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr David Bruce Wharton, has vowed to continue with her antics until the anti-sanction message is delivered home.
Ms Mutsenhu, a strong Zanu-PF supporter, forced Mr Wharton and his entourage to make a hasty retreat from Turner Memorial Library last Wednesday where the ambassador had toured an American Corner at the Mutare City Council-run library.
Her antics went on to receive international media coverage with virtually all wire services picking up the story, while the Press from countries like Nigeria and Zambia also used the story and her picture in her undergarments.
The social media was also abuzz with her story, with people giving different opinions and views. In some circles, they viewed her as a heroine, while in other circles she was seen as a villain who had brought shame to the country.
In one mixed reaction a social commentator wrote: “There was nothing wrong in strongly letting the U.S. ambassador know Zimbabweans are not amused by the US led sanctions against Zimbabwe. No Zimbabwean in his or her right senses believes sanctions help our country to develop or prosper.
“But the manner in which Sheila sent the message to the US ambassador was simply unspeakable. Even when Ian Smith had become headstrong and politically dumb and deaf against Zimbabweans, the oppressed people of Zimbabwe including women, fed up with his insolence, took up arms and fought the oppressive system.
“Imagine if they had stripped and displayed their private parts to the enemy. Smith, Peter Walls and the rest of the enemies of the people’s freedom would have only laughed and thought we were mad people. What do a woman’s private parts or naked body no matter how curvaceous or carefully round have to do with sanctions? How does nakedness express a political statement?
Sheila was a disgrace. That is the word…disgrace! She disgraced the party, the President and the nation. abomination, the north African Igwe would call it and impose stringent punishment on her. The state president often addresses global summit fora, including the United Nations, bravely and unequivocally sending the same anti-sanctions message across.
“But he has always been as smartly dressed as we know him and reasoning with Zimbabwe’s enemies, not stripping naked. Zimbabweans must emulate their president in protesting against the enemies of this beautiful and culturally dignified country.”
However, an adamant Ms Mutsenhu said she was not moved by what people were saying, as she was on a mission to add her voice on the growing chorus for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by US and its Western allies.
“I am happy that my actions helped to send the message home. As Zimbabweans, it is high time we should send a very clear message to the US and its allies that sanctions are hurting ordinary citizens. They should be removed yesterday because they are long overdue.
“There is no going back in my antics and what you witnessed is just small, bigger things are coming because enough is enough. President Mugabe has been calling for the removal of sanctions and we want to show the world that this is not a President Mugabe issue, but something that is having a telling effect on ordinary Zimbabweans especially the youths who are grappling with a host of challenges among them idleness due to unemployment. Our beautiful country is reeling under the effects of sanctions and we cannot just fold our arms and watch some so-called super powers continuing trumping on our rights,” she said.
On what the social media has been saying condemning her actions, Ms Mutsenhu, said: “People are entitled to their opinion. That is why we have the word Povo that was commonly used during the liberation struggle now being interpreted as People Of Various Opinion. I am my own person and don’t listen to what my detractors will be saying. I was and will never be influenced by mob psychology, a reason why I stripped on my own without anyone following suit. I am very serious about the sanctions issue. My actions were not influenced by a desire to be an overnight heroine, but the love of my country. People should know that a lot is coming from Sheila because enough is enough.”
Following last Wednesday’s demonstrations, Mr Wharton cancelled his tour of Sakubva District Hospital that was scheduled for last Thursday, with sources saying the ambassador and his entourage feared further humiliation as more protestors were likely to join in considering the hospital’s proximity to Mutare’s old high-density suburb of Sakubva.
When The Manica Post visited the hospital last Thursday morning, some residents were closely monitoring the developments at the hospital and went on with their different chores when news of the cancellation of the visit filtered in.
The US Embassy went on to issue a statement after the Mutare demonstration saying it was critical to work together to build a way forward.
The US Embassy statement read: “While the US values the right to peaceful protest, and notes it as a critical element of democracy, we regret that the roughly 130 Zanu-PF protestors were not interested in a conversation. Ambassador Wharton spent about 15-20 minutes listening to their messages — written on placards, and verbal — but was met with no opportunity for constructive conversation.
“The US Ambassador recognises the critical need to work together to build a way forward but believes that this must begin with a respectful sharing of ideas.” Manica Post
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