United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Peter Harry Thomas Jr’s recent public denial that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by his country were not affecting ordinary citizens, but were only targeted at some Zanu PF leaders and some entities owned by those leaders showed that he is not in touch with reality.
Mukachana Hanyani,Our Reader.
His lack of knowledge on the impact of the economic sanctions imposed on the country by both the US government and the European Union (EU) for more than a decade now should not make him trivialise the suffering of some Zimbabweans here. As a new top American diplomat, he needs to take his time and get to understand what Zimbabweans have been experiencing for close to two decades before he comes out with such uninformed comments.
Thomas Jr should take time to learn about Zimbabwe. Perhaps, taking history lessons on Zimbabwean issues could be useful for him to appreciate more about what Zimbabweans have been experiencing even before the sanctions were imposed so that he would not have problems coming up with well-researched conclusions.
The fact that he is new in the country and has not travelled around the country on his fact-finding missions to see the effects of the Western-imposed sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy makes him deny the real facts on ground. He needs to consult widely, including talking to other members of the diplomatic community who have been in the country before him so he informs himself well of the real issues on the ground. Relying on the Western written books on Zimbabwe without first-hand information is not helpful to the ambassador.
Responding to journalists’ questions during a roundtable discussion in Bulawayo recently, Thomas Jr said his country was the biggest supporter of ordinary people in Zimbabwe. He added: “It is not true that US sanctions affect ordinary people the most. We are the biggest donor in this country; we give more scholarships to support people.”
He added that his country had been the largest donor to Zimbabwe giving it US$2,6 billion since Independence. For the ambassador to find it neccessary to tell those who bothered to listen that when the country has lost more than US$100 billion in potential revenue since the country was embargoed more than a decade ago, reveals he lacks respect for the Zimbabwean people.
He needs to appreciate that Zimbabwe is endowed with mineral resources that can be exploited to finance her operations without any outside donations. And such potential coming from the use of mineral and other natural resources was destroyed by sanctions as all line of credits were cut off.
It should be clear to Thomas Jr that the West’s illegal economic sanctions regime has cost Zimbabwe’s economic well-being since 2001, with negative effects on vulnerable groups that saw their livelihoods decline to pitiable levels. So he needs to know such information so that next time he gives a comment on sanctions in the country, he does so without ruffling some feathers.
Recent reports from the Ministry of Finance indicate that Zimbabwe lost donor support amounting to approximately US$36 million annually since 2001, US$79 million in loans from the IMF, the World Bank and African Development Bank, commercial loans of US$431 million and GDP reduction of US$3,4 billion. Up to this day Zimbabweans continue to suffer because of the economic hardships caused by sanctions imposed on the country by Thomas Jr’s country and the EU bloc.
It further said that the negative publicity by the international community on Zimbabwe scared away potential creditors and reduced commercial loans by US$431 million per annum during the 2000s.
In addition the report says that the interruption of trade and constraints on manufacturing and general economic activities saw the Growth Domestic Product (GDP) almost halving from US$7,49 billion in 2000 to US$4 billion in 2010. For that reason Thomas Jr should now go around the country to see for himself the effects of sanctions imposed by his country on Zimbabwe. Actually he should not keep on reading issues to do with sanctions on the hardcover, but should read more of the inside of the book itself.
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