Academic study quantifies sanctions impact for first time

Scientific research has been undertaken to investigate the economic impact of sanctions for the first time.

Zimbabwe lost about US$4.8 billion worth of revenue in the manufacturing sector in 2010 and US$2.1 billion in 2015 due to Western sanctions, according to the preliminary results of a government-funded academic study to probe their impact on the country.

Dr Nyasha Kaseke, senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe’s business studies department, who unveiled the findings at a meeting held in Harare at the end of September, said manufacturing – a key sector of the economy – was the sector that had been worst hit by sanctions.

The findings presented at the meeting will inform the final report of the US$150,000 sanctions study, commissioned last year by then minister Jonathan Moyo of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.

The tender to carry out the study was awarded to a consortium of researchers at the University of Zimbabwe, led by Dr Albert Makochekanwa.

At the Harare meeting he said that the research had covered 11 economic sectors, including mining, agriculture, health, finance and trade, transport and infrastructure, and water and sanitation.

Guest of honour Dr Desire Sibanda, outgoing permanent secretary for the ministry of higher and tertiary education, said research was critical to guide the formulation and implementation of government policies and the reason why President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new government was committing 1% of gross domestic product to research.

“Our figures indicate that the manufacturing sector lost US$4.8 billion in revenue in 2010 and US$2.1 billion in 2015,” Kaseke said. “Local industries failed to get lines of credit because of sanctions, resulting in very low industrial production and loss of markets. As a result of the sanctions, no one wants to be associated with us. When we do get loans, they come with very prohibitive interest rates.”

Dean of the faculty of social studies at the University of Zimbabwe, Professor Charity Manyeruke, said data collected at the meeting would be added to the research before the final report was published.

Zimbabwe has battled two sets of economic sanctions since 2002, when the European Union invoked sanctions in objection to the country’s poor governance and electoral fraud. In 2003, the United States government imposed its own set of sanctions on the country.

While the EU and US have both maintained that these are targeted at individual political figures, many observers have seen them as having had a greater effect on the poor. The study is expected to reveal the real impact of sanctions on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans and lead to the implementation of new government policy.