AFRICANGLOBE – Zimbabwe lost more than $100 billion in potential revenue from exports and tourism due to sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU), a Cabinet minister has claimed.
The EU slapped President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle with a travel embargo in 2002 for reclaiming the country’s land from European settlers.
A few State owned companies accused of aiding Mugabe’s government in allegedly violating human rights were also embargoed.
The EU has since started relaxing the embargo and will next year begin giving direct aid to the Zimbabwean government.
However, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi said removing the sanctions would not be enough on its own.
Mzembi suggested the EU had to bankroll Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround as happened with the “reparations period that developed Germany and Japan” following the end of World War 11.
“It is instructive to note that in all this, diplomatic engagement between Zimbabwe and the rest of the international community has remained intact, with no single initiative to close missions from our end,” the minister told State media.
Mzembi said EU had been forced to re-engage Zimbabwe because it had realised that it was missing out on economic opportunities in the mineral rich southern African country.
“Besides the good intentions of the re-engagement efforts, one can be forgiven to conclude that the recent commercial diplomatic thrust by British business persons, the EU revocation of Article 96, and other seemingly nice gestures are a response to the Chinese and Russian excursions, in themselves not the ultimate panacea to our challenges, but certainly a necessary bargaining leverage,” he said
“The Zimbabwean counterpart to re-engagement must engage in this exercise, which I put at no less than $100 billion since the turn of the millennium.
“We were robbed of this income intellectually and materially.”
Mzembi said Chinese influence in Zimbabwe had alarmed the EU, hence Brussels’ push to mend relations.
He blamed the country’s economic collapse on “negative travel bans, advisories, and collective negative perception of the destination so ruthlessly done through global mainstream media.”
Mzembi said Zimbabwe’s tourist our arrivals would peak at 14 million in 2014 “with receipts of no less than $10 billion annually, against our current 1,8 million arrivals and $1 billion revenue”.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority recently said Chinese tourist arrivals plunged in the first half of this year by 273 percent to 2,730 from 10,173 recorded during the same period last year.
Overall, visitors from Asia during the period declined by 61 percent to 16,370 from 26,420 recorded during the same period last year.
By: Janet Shoko
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