BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
A GROUP of academics in Zimbabwe under the banner of Lecturers Anti-Sanctions Network, (LASN) have embarked on research to prove that sanctions imposed by the West were detrimental to ordinary people.
The academics said they hoped to convince the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK) and their Western allies to remove the international economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
LASN national co-ordinator Obediah Dodo, a lecturer at Bindura State University, said the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western countries had detrimental effects on the livelihoods of the economically-vulnerable citizens and had contributed to the continued deterioration of the economy.
The United States of America imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001 under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) following allegations of human rights abuses, economic mismanagement and electoral theft.
The late former President, Robert Mugabe denied the allegations, adding that the sanctions were punishment for his reform programme which took land from white farmers to resettle landless blacks.
“We, the intelligentsia of the Republic of Zimbabwe, hereby take a stand to unmask the myths surrounding the sanctions saga bedevilling Zimbabwe,” Dodo said.
“We acknowledge that like any other sovereign State, Zimbabwe has its own fair share of internal contradictions which we, as Zimbabweans, should deal with, guided by our own peculiar socio-cultural dynamics.’
He added: “In a bid to contribute to the cause of our sovereign nation, we shall engage in rigorous research and make presentations and submissions to the international community and particular Western countries for a relook into the issue of sanctions.
“We shall equally collaborate with any other stakeholder with vested interest in debunking the international economic sanctions (IES) imposed on Zimbabwe, through conferences, publications and formal petitions to have the sanctions removed for Zimbabwe to have a chance to breathe.”
LASN said it had opened its doors to other stakeholders to collectively fight for the removal of sanctions.
“From the onset, we hereby declare that our position is that of academics who rely on verifiable facts to petition for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
“We also seek to bust the sanctions through research and innovation. Accordingly, membership to this network is by own volition, with each member free to take his/her own preferred political orientation, yet meeting on the common goal that sanctions on Zimbabwe may be ‘targeted’ ideally, but practically, they are non-discriminatory to the economic dynamics of Zimbabwe.”
The President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government blames sanctions for its failure to resuscitate the economy. The United States, however, says endemic corruption and cronyism were to blame for Zimbabwe’s decay.
Southern African Development Community last year set aside October 25 to support the call for sanctions removal.