A senior United States official says poor governance and corruption in Zimbabwe are responsible for the country’s economic decline, not Western-imposed sanctions.
The U.S.and other Western nations imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe at the turn of the Millenium alleging election rigging and human rights abuses.
But speaking during a press briefing on 19 October 2022, James O’Brien, the U.S. State Department’s sanctions coordinator, said Zimbabwe’s economic decline was caused by corruption and bad economic policies.
He argued that sanctions are not hurting Zimbabwe’s economy, as they do not affect banks, pointing to billions of dollars in reported annual illegitimate, illegal cross-border transactions as examples of what is hurting the country’s economy. Said O’Brien:
Those cost the citizens of Zimbabwe a lot of their chance at having a more prosperous and free life.
And so, we’d like our sanctions to be part of a policy answer that begins to improve the management of public services and public resources and makes things possible for the people of Zimbabwe to improve.
… We are not engaged in a comprehensive effort to close the Zimbabwean economy. We’re aware that because of the depth of the problems and the duration of this program, there probably are a lot of companies who believe that doing business in Zimbabwe is just too difficult.
And that does cost opportunities for the people of Zimbabwe. Whether that’s the result of the underlying mismanagement and corruption, or whether our sanctions add to it. That’s something we are willing to talk about.
We are focused on the people who benefit from corruption and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
That’s the behaviour we are attempting to change. Our sanctions are only one part of a policy to improve the situation there.
However, the ZANU PF-led government says the sanctions are a form of economic warfare meant to punish Zimbabwe for taking land from about 4 000 white farmers and giving it to hundreds of thousands of landless black farmers.
The ultimate goal of the sanctions, according to the government of Zimbabwe, is to effect illegal regime change. | VOA News