Magazine article New African

The High Rust of Sanctions: The Cost of the Western-Imposed Sanctions on Zimbabwe Has Been Incalculable in Terms of Their Negative Contribution to Political Tensions, Polarisation of Views, Economic Decline, Deterioration of the Physical and Social Infrastructure, Poverty, and Unemployment. Sofi Manwere Looks at How Much the Sanctions Have Cost Zimbabwe in Real Terms

Magazine article New African

The High Rust of Sanctions: The Cost of the Western-Imposed Sanctions on Zimbabwe Has Been Incalculable in Terms of Their Negative Contribution to Political Tensions, Polarisation of Views, Economic Decline, Deterioration of the Physical and Social Infrastructure, Poverty, and Unemployment. Sofi Manwere Looks at How Much the Sanctions Have Cost Zimbabwe in Real Terms

Article excerpt

On 17 May, the Australian ambassador in Harare, Matthew Neuhaus, wrote to 65 Zimbabwean government officials and three corporate entities telling them: "As you would be aware, on 7 February 2013, the foreign minister of Australia, Senator Bob Carr, announced Australia's roadmap for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"Following the successful constitutional referendum on 16 March 2013, and in accordance with the roadmap, I wish to advise you that your name has been removed from the sanctions list. We now look forward to the holding of free, fair, peaceful, and credible elections which would then see the removal of the remaining targeted measures in line with the minister's decision. I am looking forward to working with you to support further progress and reform in Zimbabwe."

Many of the 65 officials saw the letter as being "cheeky" as the Australian embassy did not write to them when the country unilaterally put them on the sanctions list. Even now, 33 Zimbabweans, including President Robert Mugabe, and one Zimbabwean company still remain under Australian sanctions, which cover travel and financial restrictions. Western sanctions imposed since 2000 without United Nations authorisation, have been a vexing issue for Zimbabwe. In its election manifesto, Zanu-PF rejects the proposition that the same countries that imposed the sanctions and thus destroyed the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans can also be the champions of the country's economic recovery.

Officially, the financial cost of the sanctions to the country is estimated at over US$42bn. In the manifesto, Zanu-PF says: "The sanctions imposed by the West have been equivalent to a declaration of war on Zimbabwe's sovereignty. Since 2001, the illegal sanctions have put the Zimbabwe economy under siege with negative downstream effects on vulnerable groups, communities, and civil society."

The sanctions have manifested themselves in the form of financial, trade, cultural and academic barriers, sports embargoes, diplomatic isolation, travel bans, and the freezing of financial accounts of strategic entities and influential individuals in politics and business. This has generally worsened Zimbabwe's sovereign risk rating.

According to Zanu-PF, the cancellation of lifeline short, and long-term loans by the IMF, World Bank, and African Development Bank (AfDB) has seen Zimbabwe lose an average of $79m per annum since the sanctions were imposed. 13 years ago.

In addition, the bad reporting of Zimbabwe in the world media also created a negative national image which attracted a high risk premium on alternative sources of foreign loans, and killed the tourism market. The negative image also scared away potential creditors and reduced annual commercial loans by $431m during the 2000S.

Furthermore, the interruption of trade and constraints on manufacturing and general economic activities saw the country's GDP almost halving from $7.5m in 2000 to $4m in 2010.

Added to this was the diplomatic isolation of the country, which also led to a reduction of donor support, from $46.83m per annum to $10.88m per annum. The balance of payments shortfalls that resulted from this ranged from $2.7bn to $51bn per annum.

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NGOs

In the meantime, Western governments resorted to the use of NGOs as vehicles for financial support as against passing the money through official government channels. …

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