BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
A TOP economist has said corruption was the biggest economic sanction obstructing the country’s development and urged government to introspect on its commitment to tackle graft.
Senior researcher at the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, Prosper Chitambara, made the remarks in Gweru on Friday last week during a discussion with local journalists.
“Corruption is the biggest sanction in Zimbabwe and if we are to go back, you will realise that between 1980 and 2013, the country lost close to $50 billion through corruption,” he said.
“Corruption has increased the cost of doing business in Zimbabwe by 20%. Most of our problems are internal and not external and we continue blaming others for our (economic) failures. We cannot economically develop.”
Government has been accused of being half-hearted in dealing with corruption in the public and private sectors, a situation that has exacerbated the outflow of critical financial resources necessary to resuscitate the ailing economy.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, however, maintains that sanctions imposed by the West are stifling economic growth.But Chitambara said any country had potential to grow even under sanctions provided it advocates for macro-economic policies that speak to socio-economic rights of its citizens.“Our economic challenges are largely self-inflicted,” he said.
Chitambara said Zimbabwe could use its relations with friendly countries to bust sanctions, but those countries could not even trust the government because of its poor record of fiscal discipline.
“We lack financial credibility as a country. We last received financial support from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in 1998 because of our problems of settling external debts,” he said.
“Even the Chinese and Russians (whom Zimbabwe consider friendly) can’t trust us with their money.”