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‘Sanctions not to blame for Zim economic woes’

The European Union Head of Delegation to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia ends his tour of duty on August 31.

The Standard correspondent, Edgar Gweshe (EG) interviewed Aldo Dell’Ariccia (DA) to find out about his experiences and hopes for the future.
Below are excerpts of the interview.

EG: For how long have you been in Zimbabwe and how has been the experience?
DA: I have been in Zimbabwe for a little less than four years. I arrived on September 9 2010 and I am leaving on August 19 this year, for a short break. My tour of duty in Harare ends on 31 August 2014.
My experience in Zimbabwe has been absolutely positive. There have been challenging moments, but all in all, it has been a very interesting and professionally gratifying moment in my career.

EG: Have you ever worked anywhere else in Africa and if so, what has been your experience with African states regarding issues of democracy and political stability?
DA: No, this has been my first posting in Africa. It has been an interesting experience after having worked in Latin America, Asia and the Pacific.

EG: What is your assessment of EU-Zim relations since the time you were appointed to head the EU delegation to Zimbabwe up to date?
DA: Throughout my stay in Zimbabwe from 2010 to 2014, together with the excellent team at the Delegation, we have managed to progress well in the engagement with the government of Zimbabwe in view of achieving the ultimate goal for the European Union, which is to contribute to a more prosperous and democratic future for the people of Zimbabwe. I would dare to say that EU-Zim relations have improved meaningfully.

EG: How was your relationship with the Zimbabwean government and the ruling Zanu PF party given that in 2002, the EU imposed targeted sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and some of his lieutenants?
DA: I can only comment for the period of my mandate in Zimbabwe. During this time, I think we have managed to establish a frank and open dialogue with the now ruling party. Our respective positions are clear and we have progressed towards a better understanding of and commitment to the process that would lead to the full normalisation of our relations.

EG: Do you think the targeted sanctions served their purpose?
DA: The targeted measures were imposed on individuals and companies as a means to pressure them towards the correction of a situation that the EU considered as wrong. If we look at Zimbabwe today, we see that the situation has improved.

EG: Zanu (PF) has been on record claiming the targeted measures were responsible for the downfall of Zimbabwe’s economy. Do you agree?
DA: I do not think that the prohibition of entering the territory of the European Union for certain individuals, the freezing of their assets in banks in the EU territory, and the prohibition for European companies to enter in business with the companies owned by or with links to these individuals can entail the downfall of an economy. It is true that the listing of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has prevented the diamonds mined in the Marange area to be sold in the EU, until the delisting last year, but other diamonds from other areas where ZMDC was not involved could be sold without restrictions. I think that the reasons for the economic difficulties Zimbabwe went through since 2000 should rather be sought in certain political economic decisions of the government.

EG: How have you also helped in ensuring the prevalence of democracy and respect for human rights in the country up to date?
DA: The EU has continued being a reliable partner for the Non-State actors that are active in the governance sector, in particular in the field of the defence of human rights and the strengthening of the rule of law.
We have also been working with the Parliament and the Government in these areas, in particular through support to the Human Rights Commission and other Statutory Commissions. Together with other development partners, the EU has also supported Jomic and the process to develop the new constitution.

EG: In your own words, how helpful would it be for the EU to re-engage with Zimbabwe?
DA: The EU is convinced that Zimbabwe has a key role to play in the region and in the continent. Our re-engagement aims at facilitating the fulfilment of this ambition. A peaceful and prosperous southern Africa is an asset for the whole world.

EG: Lack of transparency and corruption has been blamed for Zimbabwe’s failure to realise benefits from its natural resources such as diamonds. Do you agree and if so what measures do you think need to be implemented?
DA: We take note with interest the government’s declaration of a zero tolerance concerning corruption. We are still waiting to see which mechanisms will be put in place to ensure the success of this strategy.

From the EU side, I can only highlight the fact that when you are in a proper environment, like the diamonds’ trade centre in Belgium, there is no space for corruption and all the operations are transparent and accounted for. I think that on the occasion of the two auction sales of Marange diamonds in Antwerp, for the first time, the minister of Finance knew exactly how much would flow to the coffers of the State.

EG: Zimbabwe has over the last years witnessed elections whose outcomes have often been contested. Does this affect EU-Zim relations and what measures need to be put in place to guard against disputed polls in the future?
DA: The re-engagement with Zimbabwe was hampered by the fact that the credibility of the July 31st elections was put into doubt by two regional African Election Observation Missions (the Sadc’s and the AU’s) and the domestic observers which registered irregularities and shortcomings in the process.

The reports of both African EOMs identify the deficiencies and weaknesses of the electoral system and indicate the ways of improving the electoral environment. The EU stands ready to support the competent national authorities in implementing these recommendations, if so asked by the government.

EG: Your last words as you leave Zimbabwe
DA: I am particularly happy that during my period as the Head of the EU Delegation, we place arts and culture very much at the centre of our intervention with Zimbabwe. Considering the amazingly artistic nature of the people of Zimbabwe, the cultural cooperation has presented an excellent opportunity for improving the mutual understanding and respect between the EU and Zimbabwe.

11 Responses to ‘Sanctions not to blame for Zim economic woes’

  1. Musona August 3, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    Rhodesia under Ian Smith was the second most prosperous economy in the whole of Africa despite the stringent UN trade sanctions against the country from 1965 to 1980. Right now Zimbabwe is the second worst economy in the whole of Africa after Somalia. Ian Smith was a clas* act. Rhodesia unlike Zimbabwe did not get any financial as*istance from the World Bank or International Monetary Fund or African Development Bank or from EU or from USA or from Canada or from Australia or from New Zealand or from China. No DIAMONDS. No money from Toll Gates. Under white rule we blacks were exempt from paying income tax and black businesses were exempt from paying corporation tax. In other words, we blacks were mothered by the whites who paid income tax and corporation tax. The services in Rhodesia were second to none. There were no power outages or water shortages. Burst sewer pipes were attended to promptly. No potholes on the roads. Clean cities. After 1980 Zanu paid us back for voting them into power by making everyone pay income tax (at a rate of 45% of take home pay) and for businesses to pay corporation tax. Despite this the services are atrocious to non-existent now.
    There’s no way on this Planet Earth that any black government, now and in the future, can equal or better the performance of the white governments. The reason is simple – the whites are the ones who introduced the systems we are trying to run on our own. The system by the whites was run on merit alone whereas ours is run on patronage or sycophancy. Talk of racism in Rhodesia is absolute nonsense. Ian Smith was a realist not a racist. I remember Smith used to talk of “responsible majority rule” as opposed to “irresponsible majority rule”. Smith was trying to save us from ourselves. Why should someone residing in the Reserves have the same voting rights as me who is residing in the city? I pay rates and am in a position to see how badly the council and central government are performing whereas the person in the Reserves pays no rates and doesn’t have to worry about the standard of service delivery and can be bribed to vote for someone with a 20kg bag of maize meal. And such people are in the majority. Some of us led very very very very fulfilling lives under white rule – much more fulfilling than right now for sure. It was the second most prosperous economy in Africa. There was all round stability. Old people would live happily on their pensions – that is something which never happens in African countries. There were black multi-millionaires in Rhodesia which goes to show that if you enterprising enough, the sky was the limit. Mugabe’s rule is very excruciating.

    • Simon Magwaza August 3, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      I fully agree with your sentiment on merit etc but let us not lose hope. There are some African countries that are doing well after putting in place accontability issuse. Rwanda and Ghana are a case in point. After killing CORRUPTION and LEGISLATED THEFT( mega salaries, croynism) the economies are picking up. We just need to do the same and perhaps copy our all-weather friend China and execute corrupt government officials :that way we can be free to start all over agains as whole lot may go to the gallows

      • Musona August 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

        @Simon Magwaza – ours is a hopeless situation because those in power have no incentive to perform better – they know their positions are under no threat so why bother improving performance? Look at ministers like Sekeramayi or Joice Mujuru, they have been ministers since 1980 and look forward to serving as ministers for another 40 years or so why should they perform better when they know their positions are under no threat? Countries like Ghana and Rwanda have had a change of government and we are stuck with one for the next I don’t how many years. Ours is a permanent government which is never going to change whether they perform better or not. How can ZanuPF win “elections” by landslide when they have just engineered a world record rate of inflation impoverishing everyone?
        Your optimism is misplaced. The situation will only get worse.

    • William Norris August 5, 2014 at 12:36 am #

      This is a nonsensical comment.

      Whites in Rhodesia were prosperous because they got land for free. They stole it. And labor was cheap, made so by deliberate policies.

      Anyway, Black Africans should be left alone to run their own lives. Succeed or fail, it’s theirs to live. It’s not our business.

      Thanks.

    • red gook August 12, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

      Your opinion that the country was better then speaks volumes about your self perception. Indeed the country is on a downward spiral but the future lies in the youth and what they will do to address the political conundrum we find ourselves in. true, years of misrule have battered the economy, but there is still hope in the near future once the political crisis is sorted out.But to say Rhodesia was a heaven is the greatest act of self-deprecatory thinking (or lack of it thereof) if indeed you are a black man. What makes you ashamed of being black? Your sentiments that Smith wanted to ‘save us’ from ourselves show a slave mentality that so God help Zimbabwe, posterity must never have leadership from slaves like you. Hundreds of thousands of black people were killed by Rhodesian forces simply for being black and you say Smith was good? Surely you must be a white die hard Rhodesian or a stupid black man

  2. mageja siziba August 3, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    @ Simon Magwaza your example of Ghana as one example of a successful African economy is totally misplaced. Right now Ghana is in economic turmoil. There are numerous strikes by employees in the public & private sectors. The fiscus is dry. Government is unable to guarantee civil servants’ salaries at the end of each month. 70% of Government revenues go to civil servants’ salaries. Inflation has raised domestic prices to unprecedented levels The whole population is up in arms with the Government. John Mahama’s government is unlikely to be re-elected in 2016 as the economy is failing to provide jobs for Ghanains.

    Economy yeGhana haisi kufaya.

    As for Musona, he is a sick rhodie with his long & tired monologues.

    • Musona August 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      @mageja siziba – stupid cretin. What is a sick Rhodie? If you are now a Zimbabwean then before 1980 you were a Rhodesian. Calling someone a Rhodie will not change the fact that under Ian Smith, with UN trade sanctions, the country has the second most prosperous economy in Africa. How can you say monologue when Magwaza has replied to my comments and you idiot have also replied? Ignorant bastard.

    • Musona August 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

      @mageja siziba – Who gave you the authority to judge whether comments are “tired” or not you stupid fool? You could be the Editor but this does not mean you are in a position to say whether any comment is “tired” or not. Some people might find the comments very informative. Just because the comments do not resonate with your brainwashed thinking does not mean they are “tired”. Idiot.

  3. ZVOKWADI August 4, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    The claim that sanctions are not that damaging to our economy is a VERY SILLY & HYPOCRITICAL JOKE which is not funny at all!! Just before the enactment of ZIDERA Chester Crocker actually said that sanctions would make the economy SCREAM, and he even warned “I hope you senators have the stomach for it” So how can anyone with grey matter in their skulls claim that sanctions are innocuous??!!

  4. Mew August 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    @mageja – Musona is spot on. Iwe ndiwe usingazive mamiriro izvinhu. Regera ataure.

  5. fivestar August 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

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