Zimbabwe: Top Economist Says Sanctions Are Not the Biggest Problem

RENOWNED economist Godfrey Kanyenze has dismissed claims that sanctions are the biggest albatross to Zimbabwe’s economy, opting to put the blame on government mismanagement.

The remarks, premiered in the academic’s new book released last week titled, “Leaving so many behind-The Link between Politics and the Economy of Zimbabwe”, come shortly after the renewal of the economic sanctions by the European Union and the United States.

Reacting to the sanctions renewal, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube slammed the development, arguing that sanctions have cost Zimbabwe US$42 billion since their inception, a blame which the book criticises.

“Blaming everything on sanctions is a step too far in that it fails to take into account other critical factors that may simultaneously impact the economy and the various groups affected,” Kanyenze said.

“When the various measures and sanctions were imposed since December 2001, the economy was already in crisis, with the government having defaulted on its arrears repayment in 1999 resulting in the International Financial Inflows (IFIs) withdrawing their financial support,” he said.

In fact, he said in the book, by the time the sanctions were imposed, Zimbabwe was already in a serious and economic crisis, which began in the late 1990s.

The book underscores that the unprecedented economic rebound during the GNU period, even in the midst of continued existence of sanctions and restrictive measures contradicts the sanctions blame game.

“Post GNU era marked the return of fiscal indiscipline and fratricidal factional fights put paid to the recovery and returned the economy to a performance below the average Sub-Saharan Africa and world economy, suggesting the importance of non-sanctions factors in explaining the poor performance,” argues Kanyenze.

The book points out that even though ZIDERA mandates US officials on the boards of the IFIs to block any support to Zimbabwe, they have not been called upon to do so.

He said while Zimbabwe had a negative trade balance with the rest of the world between 2006 and 2018, it enjoyed a positive trade balance with the EU during the period. Zimbabwe enjoyed a trade surplus with the USA during the period 2000-2008 with the exception of 2007.

From a chronological sequencing of events, the book said the sanction measures at best, exacerbated a crisis that was already rapidly unravelling, and were in response to the deteriorating governance, rule of law, human rights and economic management scenario.

“However, denialism on the part of the Zimbabwean state on the existence of a crisis imposes a hurdle on the way forward.

“There is therefore a need for more analysis on the different understandings of the Zimbabwean crisis and the political and institutional constraints at national, regional and international levels,” the book added.

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