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Sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and other countries by the West are ineffective as a regime change tool and have more negative side effects than benefits, an influential American magazine has said.An article, “From Russia to Africa: Why Sanctions Are Ineffective Against Toxic Leadership” published by the Forbes magazine this week, states that sanctions may inaertently strengthen leaders that the West seek to torpedo through sanctions.

“(T)he ‘sanctions approach’, praised by many western diplomats, has almost never contributed to create a regime change,” said the magazine.

“On the contrary, revolutions took places in countries that were widely supported economically by western countries, such as Egypt, Tunisia, and more recently, Burkina Faso.

“One can only wonder: why is that? How come no sanctions-induced revolution ever took place despite the wide use of that tool by the US and Europe? Part of the answer comes from the fact that from North Korea to Syria, Burma, Iran, Cuba, Sudan or Zimbabwe, economic sanctions have had little or no results over the years on the toxic leaders who rule those countries.”

It added that, “in most cases, sanctions and embargos even aggravated the global humanitarian situation”.

“Overall, although it is not politically correct to say it, economic sanctions have more negative side effects than benefits, and can even contribute to pave the way for civil war, as is the case in Syria,” said Forbes.

The magazine suggested that rather than putting pressure on leaders, the West would do well to engage leaders to willingly leave power.

“In Africa, one man, billionaire Mo Ibrahim, understood that part of the solution is to give to political leaders a sense of perspective. Since 2007 his foundation has been awarding a ‘Prize for Achievement in African Leadership’, five million dollars as an initial payment and a yearly income of $200 000 to former Executive Heads of State or Governments, who have willingly left power after they completed their term, and contributed to the enhancement of good governance in their country.

This is probably the most pragmatic, let’s do-business way of looking at the problem: give a big enough incentive to toxic leaders to show them the way out through influence, not force.

Of course, this would mean that western countries would have to abandon the allure of the moral prestige they get from sanctions.”

Western countries imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe at the turn of the century to achieve regime change following the land reform programme.

Despite sanctions, President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF have managed to successively defeat the western-sponsored opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

The European Union has been removing sanctions on a piecemeal basis, while the US has been intransigent.

The Government has demanded the total removal of the embargoes.

Source : The Herald