Zim economy in a deep hole: US envoy


HARARE – Zimbabwe's economy, already at its lowest in decades, will get worse before it gets better, with the US envoy saying it will take time before liberalising reforms turn net positive, and Harare needs to bite more such bullets for a sustainable turnaround.

American envoy Harry Thomas Jnr urged the government to stop blaming sanctions and get its house in order, saying the economy was in a “deep hole.”

The diplomat said unless and until the government comes up with sound economic policies, strong anti-corruption and transparency policies, the southern African nation’s crisis was not going to end anytime soon.

“Let’s not kid ourselves, you are in a deep hole and it’s going to take a long time to get out,” he told reporters at a public discussion in Harare yesterday.

“It’s going to take some time because it’s a crisis, you need sound economic policies.”

Thomas, who has clocked 100 days working as an envoy in Zimbabwe, said the introduction of the bond notes also risked deterring foreign investors.

“… also the bond notes caused unease, so people who were looking to invest are going, what does this mean?

“And if I come in, can I get my money out? So that’s a real concern right now and I don’t thing that is linked to just American potential investors but also global investors,” Thomas said.

After getting several questions from the public on whether the sanctions imposed on 98 Zimbabweans and 68 entities by the American government were the reason behind the country’s economic crisis, the 60-year-old said the sanctions were not to blame but were being used as an excuse for bad behaviour.

“This notion that sanctions are the reason Zimbabwe is in this economic state is a myth and it’s incorrect and it’s an excuse. The reason Zimbabwe cannot access International Monetary Funds, World Bank funds, African Development Bank funds, has nothing to do with sanctions, it had not been able to access that for 15 years before sanctions were imposed,” Thomas said.

“We did not design your economic programmes, the reason that foreign firms do not come here is because of uncertainty in economic planning and corruption.  “When people are taking their money out, no matter how they do it, those are Zimbabweans; it has nothing to do with sanctions. It has to do with lack of sound economic policies and transparencies.

“People use it as an excuse; there are people who say that oh!, I am on the sanctions list, I cannot do this, I can do this as an excuse of bad behaviour.  But to say that sanctions are hurting people is incorrect.  I am really bothered as I go around, as I see people who do not have water, people struggling.”

Apart from trade with Zimbabweans, Thomas said America has also been able to support Zimbabwe through aid.

The United States has been active in supporting the Zimbabwe’s vulnerable communities, with the powerhouse this year contributing $55 million towards food aid.  The country also supports the country’s HIV/ Aids prevention programmes.

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