ZIMBABWE is determined to re-engage the world and is doing everything it can to improve the economic welfare of its people but needs the albatross rock of illegal economic sanctions imposed by western countries in order to move fast, a senior Government official said.
In an interview with German public international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said although Zimbabwe had been facing a plethora of challenges precipitated by a myriad of factors, remedial action is now being taken.
“There was hope, and there is still hope because we have to take painful decisions to rectify the economy from where it was. These painful decisions are the ones which make people lose hope, but in reality they are getting things right,” he said.
As part of resetting the button and setting the country on a recovery path, Dr Moyo said Government also considered its embassies dotted around the world that needed capacitation after years of neglect.
A decision was made to immediately purchase vehicles for easy mobility.
“The conditions of our diplomats externally was really in a state of collapse because they were moving around in Ubers (taxis). They were moving in something that was inappropriate for a diplomat who is posted in a foreign country and buying vehicles for the diplomats was one of those measures which were taken to improve their welfare. Whatever the cost of those vehicles, it’s not necessarily the issue that has caused the economy to be like this,” he said.
Dr Moyo said the country’s economy had been in bad shape for some time now and Government is putting in place a raft of measures and reforms to ensure recovery and growth including the recent efforts to stabilise the exchange rate through a Foreign Currency Auction System that has positively impacted on the economy as it has resulted in market stabilisation.
“We are doing a lot of other economic reforms which ensure that even the investment community is free to come in with the mantra Zimbabwe is Open for Business. The whole gamut of sanctions has caused serious and unintended consequences. I have always called it a weapon of mass destruction because Zidera (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of the United States), which exits now is an act on Zimbabwe that (says the country) shall not access any external support from the IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank or other international institutions and because of that it means therefore the perceived risk for this country whenever there is that hanging aspect of a sanction means its higher. It deters investors who would want to come into this country despite the fact that Zimbabwe is Open for Business which has been propagated by President Mnangagwa.”
Dr Moyo added that sanctions were not only irrelevant, but were causing unnecessary pain to the general populace as Zimbabwe could not access lines of credit that could help the economic to recover.
He said when President Mnangagwa assumed office he made it clear that Zimbabwe was willing to be a friend of everyone as he enunciated his engagement and re-engagement drive.
“The whole objective of that was to ensure that we are a member of the family of nations who can trade and who can allow any companies, particularly from the West to come and invest and we are still encouraging that,” said Dr Moyo.
Dr Moyo said the country offers the best primary investment platforms in the world especially for early movers.
On corruption, Dr Moyo said President Mnangagwa has made it abundantly clear that he will not tolerate the vice and has thus far, has walked the talk through taking action even against some of his Government ministers.
“Corruption is something that we are acting on and not just something which is theoretical. You are aware that two Cabinet ministers have been arraigned, and a number of other officials and bureaucrats,” said Dr Moyo.
Some of the top Government officials who have been nailed for engaging in corrupt activities are former Director of State Residences Douglas Tapfuma, former Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge, former Tourism Minister Prisca Mupfumira and ex-permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare Ngoni Masoka and just recently former Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo.
The minister said Zimbabwe had put in place measures that will ensure greater freedoms of its people, but stressed that freedoms come with responsibilities.
“There is no freedom of violent demonstrations or protests, there is no freedom of burning people’s cars and everything like that, it must be the freedom which respects other people’s rights as well.
“In the first place, we are in the Covid-19 period and you cannot have an assembly of over 50 people in town. If you break the law in that regard and then cause danger to the other people in regard to Covid-19, it means you are infringing other people’s rights to life which is not appropriate”.
Notwithstanding the spectre and threat posed by the invisible Covid-19 pandemic, whose cases in Zimbabwe are now over 1 000 with 20 deaths, the country’s opposition parties are planning protests, ostensibly against corruption, but in reality its meant to subvert a constitutionally-elected Government.
On the alleged abduction of three MDC Alliance officials, Minister Moyo said while investigations are ongoing on the issue, preliminary findings have poked holes into the whole abduction story.
“You believe that State Security agencies abducted those women, but this is a matter which is under investigation and an interim report has actually been produced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which articulates clearly that this could be leading to one of those issues which are stage managed towards a particular regional or international event,” said Dr Moyo.
The alleged abduction of the three MDC Alliance officials, namely Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marowa coincided with the Sadc Troika Summit that was attended by regional leaders in Zimbabwe.
While almost in similar fashion, in a September last year, just before the UN General Assembly and also when a high-ranking delegation was visiting Zimbabwe to assess the human rights situation, Dr Peter Magombeyi, a leader of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) was also allegedly abducted in yet another case that exposed machinations to soil the image of the Second Republic.
The minister said as a sign of sincerity to its reform agenda, Zimbabwe has repealed some pieces of legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
“There are reforms that are taking place and these reforms are not being taken for the sake of the international community or Western capitals but they are also being done for the benefit of our people”.