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'Drop sanctions' said Washington experts - burning tyres producing lots of obnoxious smoke but little heat and no light

18 Apr 2019 at 06:44hrs | Views
"Experts in Washington, discussing whether or not Zimbabwe is a source of shame or opportunity for Africa, were unanimous in their position that targeted sanctions were hurtful to the country, and must be removed, but equally held the government and the ruling Zanu-PF party accountable for the poor state of the economy and overall decline," reported VOA.

But going through what these so called experts said, one will be disappointed to find very little evidence to support their claims and that they had nothing to say on many of the burning issues. We are no wiser from their expertise. The panellists were like burning tyres, they produced lots and lots of foul smelling smoke but very little heat and no light!

"Certainly ZIDERA which is still in the books and has been extended by President Trump - do they hurt the poor more than the ruling elite? There is a strong case that the sanctions do hurt the poor more than they hurt the ruling elite, which through corruption gets around the sanctions," said panellist Barry Wood RTHK Washington correspondent.

The Zanu-PF government and its apologists have often blamed ZIDERA for IMF, WB and other international financial institutions' refusal to grant Harare the much needed credit lines. But Barry Wood should know that this is just a feeble excuse because the credit lines dried up in 2000 because Zanu-PF was not servicing its debt, long before ZIDERA which was imposed a year later. The Chinese have too stopped to grant Harare any loans for the same reason.

It is pleasing to note that Mr Wood acknowledges that corruption is a serious problem in Zimbabwe. In 2016 President Robert Mugabe admitted that Zimbabwe was being "swindled" out of US$15 billion in diamond revenue. It should be noted here that Zimbabwe's GDP is US$10 billion. To date, not even one diamond swindler has been arrested and one dollar recovered.

Indeed we know the wholesale looting has continued because the mining has continued 24/7 and parliament was told that government was receiving 1/6 of the expected revenue.

Would Mr Wood, advance any credit lines to a regime that he knows is corrupt and wasteful? Of course, not! Yet he expects the IMF, WB, etc. to do so regards of country's mounting debt and Zanu-PF's failure to repay!

"So how did Zimbabwe plunge to these tremendously low levels?" queried Professor Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University.

"We have property rights, number one. Two, money. Three, there's no hard budget constraints in Zimbabwe, a situation where you have no discipline, very weak institutions, no one is in control of fiscal affairs. When you have a soft budget and no hard budget constraint, and anything goes basically in the fiscal sphere. In the fourth item … the dominant political party, Zanu-PF is a party which operates much like an organized criminal syndicate or crime syndicate.

"So step one, unilaterally the US and the international community, to the extent the international communities involved should drop sanctions, and encourage, of course, the adoption of the 'Singapore Strategy' and stop talking about foreign aid. Foreign aid is not going to rescue Zimbabwe."

To start with the targeted sanctions have not worked because they were not followed up. Last week the Standard Bank was fined US$18 million for doing business with individuals on the sanctions list. There is no doubt that it was not the only institution that had ignored the sanctions and that this has been going on for years. The imposed sanctions will force everyone to clean-up their act and make sanctions work.

Second, until Professor Hanke presents us with more details on his "Singapore Strategy", it will be foolish to abandon the only plan, sanctions, we have to fight the "crime syndicate".

The West, especially the Americans, went to great lengths to explain to President Mnangagwa and his Zanu-PF regime that if they honoured their promise to hold free, fair and credible elections the sanctions will be lifted. Not even one of the so called expert panellists could deny the elections were rigged. The regime failed to produce something as basic as a verified voters' roll for Pete's sake!

Zimbabwe is in this economic and political hell-on-earth because the nation has been stuck with a corrupt, incompetent and tyrannical regime for 39 years. As long as Zanu-PF retains its carte blanche powers to rig elections and use brute force to beat the people into submission the will be no escape out of this hell-hole!

Zimbabwe needs to end this curse of rigged elections and the sanctions are helping to highlight the people's demand for democratic reforms leading to the holding of free, fair and credible elections.

There will certainly be cases of ordinary people suffering as a consequence of the sanction. Indeed, there are very few things in things world that will have positive effects and no negatives. Even with the very rigorous safety procedures there are still flying accidents, for example. Are we then to banish all flying because of the odd air craft crash! We must carefully weigh the benefit the sanctions bring on the one side against the all the suffering and hardship on the other.

If the imposing of the sanctions can help deliver free, fair and credible elections and end the Zanu-PF dictatorship and all the suffering and deaths it has caused then bring on the sanctions!

It is interesting to note that Mnangagwa and his apologists, to the man and woman, supported the UN sanctions imposed against Ian Smith's white racist government before independence. They all dismissed Smith's counter argument that the sanctions caused untold economic hardship on the black majority. They are now saying Smith was right just because they are now on the business end of the whip. What a bunch of hypocrites!

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