A panel of experts in the United States of America has called for an end to the targeted sanctions imposed by the US on Zimbabwe.
Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank organised a discussion on Monday titled ‘Zimbabwe: Africa’s Shame and Opportunity’.
During the discussion, the panellists were unanimous in their call for the repeal of the US sanctions law, the Zimbabwe Economic and Recovery Act of 2001 (ZIDERA) which they said harm ordinary citizens and not the intended people.
One of the panelists, RTHK Washington Correspondent, Barry Wood, who was recently in Zimbabwe had this to say:
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.
Another panellist, Professor Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University, who is a long-time critic of the Harare administration echoed Wood’s view. Said, Hanke:
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.
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.
W. Gyude Moore of the Center for Global Development reiterated the view that sanctions do not work. He said:
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.
However, the panellists blamed the government of Zimbabwe for the economic decline over the past several decades. Hanke had this to say:
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 crime syndicate or crime syndicate.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube was part of the audience during the discussion. He came under fire from one of the panellists, Wood. This is what wood said to Ncube:
Zanu-PF at its core opposes market-based reform which is championed, I might say, and it’s certainly true, by Mr Ncube.
So, we don’t know what’s really going on. The government is incompetent and divided, and the reforms won’t be implemented.