Zimbabwe declares new public holiday to protest US sanctions

Harare — Zimbabwe has declared a new public holiday to protest US sanctions it says are hurting its economy, and the day comes with a state-sponsored festival.

Anti-Sanctions Day will be commemorated on October 25, acting information minister Amon Murwira said Monday, calling it a chance to “further amplify the importance of this day to the economic emancipation and well-being of Zimbabwe.”

Tens of thousands of people are expected to be bused to the capital, Harare, where they will march, watch a soccer match between the country’s two biggest teams and attend an all-night concert.

Dozens of Zimbabwean officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, have faced years of US sanctions over alleged human rights violations amid troubled elections and the seizures of white-owned land.

Mnangagwa, who took office after longtime leader Robert Mugabe was forced out in late 2017, at first urged the country to “stop mourning” about the sanctions. But he has since turned them into a rallying cry like his predecessor and blamed them for the collapsing economy as hopes fade that he will revive the country’s fortunes.