Sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West and the United States of America, are a double-edged sword that is also inflicting pain on the administrators of the embargo, a top economist has said.
Mr Ashok Chakravarti, an economist and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, said US sanctions under Zimbabwe Democracy Recovery Act (Zidera) and other measures couched in executive orders, were preventing dialogue between the two countries while at the same time hurting America’s business interests in Zimbabwe.
Further, US assistance to Zimbabwe hardly provided relief to the Southern African country, Mr Chakravarti argued.
Mr Chakravarti was part of the panellists at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington and was commenting on the US imposed Zidera sanctions last week.
He said the sanctions have made it difficult for Zimbabwe to access new financing from international markets.
“It (Zidera) also requires US executive director on the international financial institutions to vote against any new aid to Zimbabwe,” said Mr Chakravarti.
“It is problematic from the Zimbabwe’s point of view, but I think it is against the US interests as well.”
Mr Chakravarti said the US policy towards Zimbabwe was contrary to that country’s strategy for Africa because it has made it difficult for American businesses to trade with Zimbabwe.
“It makes US companies to have commercial ties with Zimbabwe difficult,” he said.
“There are reports of Islamic terrorists group moving to Southern Africa. As far as I know the Government of Zimbabwe is more than willing to cooperate with the US on this matter, but as long as Zidera is in place it is not going to happen.”
He urged for the abolishment of Zidera and normalisation of relations between the two countries. “I am saying this prevents proper dialogue between the US and Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe more importantly. He said though the US sought to use relief assistance to push for reforms, this Mr Chakravarti said has negligible effect.
“The US relief assistance does not at all tackle the fundamental problems of Zimbabwe,” he said, adding that dialogue could provide a long term solution.
Zimbabwe, he said, had moved from the State-led model and that new trajectory should be applauded.
“That model is no longer the philosophy of the new administration,” he said. “This is a new direction and if the direction has changed certainly it must be supported because if you do not support this direction of change you are actually inadvertently the other side. That is the reality of Zidera.”
Zimbabwe was slapped with illegal sanctions by Britain and her allies at the turn of the millennium, after the country embarked on a successful land reform programme as part of efforts to correct skewed land ownership which favoured the minority whites. The country, as a result of the embargo, cannot access lines of credit, making it difficult to operate a modern economy.
Recently, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni condemned the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe by the West saying it is an act of cowardice and those behind the economic restrictions should lift them, adding to the general condemnation by countries and statesmen over the years.
He made the remarks while officially opening the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo.- State Media