By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
17 June 2014
Thought leaders met in Harare on Tuesday to discuss the economic crisis currently gripping the country.
Civil society group Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition organised the meeting which was attended by academics, students, politicians, economists, diplomats and civil society activists among others.
Discussions focused on the economy post-2013 elections, and on the targeted sanctions and Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the international community
Crisis in Zim Coalition director Joy Mabenge said it was important for them to debate “these issues to enable us as civil society to formulate and adopt a position that will inform our future responses” on the economy, restrictive measures and re-engagement.
“Our responsibility as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has always been to create platforms for dialogue and to bring together stakeholders to debate critical matters. This helps us to adopt informed positions on these issues.”
According to Mabenge, participants at the meeting all agreed that the economy is in “freefall and that the ordinary person in the country is struggling to survive”.
“It is clear to everyone that the economy is the new sight of struggle and as civil society we want to be in a position to offer alternative policy options to take the country forward,” Mabenge added.
The ruling ZANU PF party blames the restrictive measures imposed by the West on the Mugabe regime for its failure to provide jobs for Zimbabweans or to access capital to kick-start the economy. Only Mugabe and his wife remain targeted under the EU restrictive measures.
Speaking at the meeting the EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’ Ariccia however said the obstacle to borrowing for Zimbabwe is its debt to international lenders, and not targeted sanctions.
The diplomat also dismissed Zimbabwe’s claims that the restrictive measures were illegal, saying these were based on the Cotonou agreement which Zimbabwe signed with the EU.
He said only the President and his wife Grace remain on the targeted measures list because only he can effect the reforms needed in Zimbabwe.
Academic and head of policy think-tank the Zimbabwe Institute James Muzondidya said that, “it is hardly possible to revive the economy if the restrictive measures are maintained”.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze blamed the government for getting its “priorities wrong” and then blaming it all on (targeted) sanctions.”
While the civil society groups met, Mugabe was in Bolivia where he told the world that “the sanctions imposed by the West – by his reckoning the sole cause of the country’s economic problems – had been defeated,” according to an online news agency.
Confidence in the economy continues to fade amid reports that the country has registered deflation for the fourth month in a row with retailers recording reduced sales as people spend less and less.