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Zimbabwe researchers will study impact of economic sanctions | Coastweek

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Riot police [left] arrest a suspect protestor in Epworth on the outskirts of Harare during July 2016. Zimbabwean police said they had arrested 30 people involved in inciting riots in the capital Harare. The riots were initiated by drivers of commuter omnibus who abandoned their routes protesting against what they perceived as increased police harassment on the roads. Riot police [right] forcefully disperse opposition supporters at Harare Magistrate Courts, in Harare during August 2016. Zimbabwe opposition parties had gathered to prepare for National Electoral Reform Agenda march. XINHUA PHOTOS
Zimbabwe researchers will study impact of Economic Sanctions

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government is looking for local and international researchers to carry out an in-depth study on the impact of economic sanctions imposed by the West in the early 2000s following the country’s controversial land reform program and contested governance issues.

A statement from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Monday said the sanctions had mainly been described from a political perspective.

"This has led to varying views being expressed depending on one’s political inclination," the statement said.

The study will cover the sanctions’ impact on ordinary people in particular and the country and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region in general and has a budget of 150,000 U.S. dollars.

"In reality, the core characteristics of these sanctions were initiated by the temporary withdrawal of Zimbabwe’s credit lines by the World Bank in 1997. This was followed by a complete termination of Balance of Payments (BoP) support to the country in 2001," the statement said.

"The African Development Bank similarly stopped Zimbabwe’s BoP support in 1998 and so did the International Monetary Fund in 1999," the statement said.

The socio-economic environment caused by the sanctions had resulted in several donor agencies and international non-governmental organizations relocating to neighboring countries, it added.

"It has since been estimated that the sanctions have cost Zimbabwe well in excess of 42 billion U.S. dollars, since 2001, which seriously affected various vulnerable groups of the country’s population," the statement said.

The ministry further argued that also as a result of the sanctions, many skilled Zimbabweans had left the country, thereby creating a huge human capital capacity gap, while technology transfer from advanced countries suffered significant retardation.

Debate has raged over the years on the impact of the sanctions, with the government calling them such while opposition parties and western governments called them restrictive measures.

The European Union (EU) and the United States (U.S.) have been at the center of the sanctions, with the U.S. targeted sanctions applying to 98 Zimbabwean individuals and 68 entities (mostly farms and legal entities owned by the 98 individuals) as of March 14, 2016.

The U.S. said it implemented the targeted sanctions program in 2003 as a result of the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Zimbabwe and other persons undermining democratic institutions and processes in Zimbabwe.

It also denies that it maintains an embargo on Zimbabwe, saying that only certain persons have been targeted for sanctions on the basis of their connection to the Government of Zimbabwe.

The U.S. also denies that it is preventing Zimbabwe’s access to international financial assistance and says that Zimbabwe became ineligible for multilateral loans in 1999, well before the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), because it had stopped repaying loans owed to international financial institutions.

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas Junior acknowledged in June that the sanctions, although targeted, might have had a negative bearing on ordinary Zimbabweans.

"However, we’ve not carried out a study to ascertain the effects of the sanctions, but we have to try to sort out the unintended consequences of sanctions to ordinary people out there," he was quoted as saying.

On its part, the EU early this year renewed its remaining sanctions against Zimbabwe for a further year, until 20 February 2017, meaning an asset freeze and travel ban will continue to apply to President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.

While an arms embargo exists, the EU has however lifted sanctions on 78 other people and eight entities in respect of whom sanctions had previously been in existence.

Zimbabwean President Mugabe has over the years taken every opportunity to denounce the "illegal sanctions" saying that they were a tool by the West to effect regime change in the country.

             

 

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