The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi Chief Reporter
The push for the United States government and the European Union (EU) bloc to remove the two-decade-old sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe is beginning to snowball with international organisations adding a voice to Harare’s renewed lobby, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.
Last week, several international organisations, some of which are vocal critics of Government, condemned the embargo.
Minister Ncube, who attended the World Bank and International Monetary Bank annual meetings and a panel discussion organised by the Cato Institute — a Washington-based think-tank — told The Sunday Mail the engagements were successful and could help the country get the much-needed support to clear its arrears.
He added that there was an outpouring of support for the removal of sanctions.
“There is enormous goodwill from the international economic community and investors for Zimbabwe to succeed on its Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP)- driven reform agenda.
“Some global think tanks such as Cato Institute, and African countries, have called for removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe, which have cut off credit lines into Zimbabwe’s private sector and, therefore, impacting negatively on job creation and the poor,” he said.
International creditors, he said, pledged to continue working with Harare in its strategy to clear its international debts.
“The IMF, World Bank and all credit countries in the G7 group support Zimbabwe’s economic reforms and institutional reforms.
“The global support for Zimbabwe culminated in the agreement by the IMF to a Staff Monitored Programme, which will pave the way for debt arrears clearance and inflows of new capital into the economy. The World Bank facilitated many forums for Zimbabwe to engage stakeholders.
“The SMP will assist Zimbabwe in creating a track record on the reform agenda under the TSP, which is already underway. The track record is a critical input into crafting a financial bailout package and arrears clearance.”
The Treasury chief also indicated that a financial package for the reconstruction of Cyclone Idai-affected areas in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe is presently being put together by international financial institutions and other countries.
During discussions at the Cato Institute in Washington, experts were unanimous on calling for the removal of sanctions, which they claim continue to impede the country’s economic growth efforts.
Professor Steve Hanke of John Hopkins University, a long-time Government critic, said sanctions should be removed “immediately”.
“Sanctions should be dropped immediately. Sanctions don’t work. The history of economic and financial sanctions is one failure after another, the production of all kinds of negative, unintended consequences,” said Prof Hanke.
He advised the US and the EU to adopt a different strategy that excludes sanctions.
Washington-based economist and journalist Barry Wood said the suggestion that sanctions do not hurt ordinary people was flawed.
Similarly, Mr Gyude Moore of the Centre for Global Development said sanctions on Zimbabweans have not achieved any positive outcome.
“Sanctions that target the people of Zimbabwe ordinarily is not going to work and in the long term is not going to help resolve the issues in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Moore .
In his Independence Day speech, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said sanctions were a deterrent to the country’s development.
“On foreign relations, the engagement and re-engagement policy with all countries in the international community, based on mutual respect, is progressing well. Various strategic engagements have resulted in the signing of 25 numerous bilateral cooperation agreements and concrete investments.
“We, however, call for the unconditional removal of the illegal and unjustified economic sanctions imposed on us so that our nation can realise its full development potential, free from any hindrances.”
In its bid for the removal of sanctions, Government continues to engage the US and the EU.