Sanctions have cost Zimbabwe USD42 billion, government claims

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By Costa Nkomo

GOVERNMENT Tuesday claimed Zimbabwe has lost US$42 billion in revenue in the last 18 years due to sanctions imposed by European Union (EU) and the US on allegations of electoral fraud and human rights abuses.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post-Cabinet media briefing Tuesday that according to a paper presented to the Cabinet by the Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo, the country has lost billions due to the measures that the EU and US claim are targeted at individuals and not the country.

“The Minster (Moyo) stated that Zimbabwe had lost at least US$42 billion in revenue over the past 18 years due to the sanctions,” Mutsvangwa said.

Mutsvangwa added: “It is also believed that Zimbabwe lost bilateral donor support estimated at US$4.5 billion annually, since 2001. A total of US$12 billion in loans from the IMF, the World Bank and African Development Bank as well as commercial loans worth US$18 billion were also lost on account of the sanctions.”

According to Mutsvangwa the sanctions also caused a GDP shrinkage of US$21 billion.

However, earlier in the day, former European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme wrote on his microbloging social media site Twitter dispelling the claims Zimbabwean authorities have been making on the impact of sanctions on the economy for over ten years.

“Over recent days I have read a lot of nonsense about ‘illegal sanctions’ against Zimbabwe. I always said I’m not a historian and leave the interpretation of the facts and the judgment of their wisdom to others, but can we at least try to agree on the facts?

“The collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy predates these ‘sanctions’ and is related to earlier policy choices,” Van Damme said.

He added that the EU’s sanctions on Zimbabwe were initiated by the land reform program which was characterised by human rights violations.

“The need for land reform was never contested by the EU, the way it was done was, undermining the rule of law and minimal security of tenure for the new tenants, discouraging investment on the land.

“The European ‘sanctions’ were always limited to a restrictive number of entities and individuals plus an arms embargo. There never was a trade embargo, on the contrary, Zimbabwe has always continued benefitting from a privileged access to the EU market under Cotonou,” the former EU envoy to Harare said.

Zimbabwe’s relations with Western countries collapsed in the early 2000s when the late former President Robert Mugabe’s administration embarked on compulsory land expropriation in a bid to redress colonial land ownership patterns.