Zim-EU relations move gear up
ZIMBABWE is keen to intensify interactions with the European Union in the areas of economic development, trade investment, human rights promotion and governance, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary, Mr Nick Mangwana, has said.
He said this in a statement last night following the Fourth Session of the Article 8 Political Dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU yesterday.
Zimbabwe’s high level delegation was represented by the dialogue co-chair, Ambassador James Manzou, who is also the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, while the EU delegation was led by Ambassador Timo Olkkonen, who is the Head of the EU Mission in Zimbabwe.
Mr Mangwana said building on the preceding sessions, Zimbabwe and the EU yesterday exchanged experiences on the country’s reform path in terms of legislative and amendments and statute alignment to the Constitution.
They also discussed anti-corruption intensification efforts by the Government, operationalising the constitutional demands to the respect for human rights and the rule of law, democracy, human rights and good governance, investment attraction, media freedoms and the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) regulation strategies.
“Noteworthy is that the European Investment Bank has extended credit lines to NMB and CABS. This gesture effectively speaks to how the Zim-EU cordial relations are being strengthened,” said Mr Mangwana.
“However, it is regrettable that other retrogressive parts of the global community are adamant in their consolidation of the sanctions regime in Zimbabwe.
“We are optimistic that this multi-lateral engagement fostered through our open foreign policy will invite widespread rationality in the call for the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe to fall.
“Again this credit line extension substantiates the EU’s confidence in Zimbabwe as an optimal destination for investment. This serves as a token of the greater prospects for Zim-EU inter-dependence at a time the Second Republic is sincere to its policy position of making ‘Zimbabwe Open for Business’”.
Mr Mangwana said further to that, Zimbabwe was bound by many common values with the EU and the values continue to influence the rationale for increased dialogue between the two parties.
“Therefore, the EU must be commended for the value it attaches to engagement with Zimbabwe. Both parties pledged that this dialogue will continue to be guided by globally shared values as expressed in the Constitution of our nation.
“As a result, Zimbabwe will continue to interact with the EU in the areas of economic development, trade investment, human rights promotion, governance and the rule of law,” said Mr Mangwana.
Speaking after yesterday’s session, Ambassador Olkkonen said the discussion was a “good kaleidoscope of the overall relations” between the two parties.
He said the political dialogue was fruitful, emphasising the bloc’s ambition for “a more constructive relationship”.
“A strengthened relationship between Zimbabwe and the EU holds promises of increased investments and trade opportunities. It also offers a way to strengthen the Government’s transparency and economic development,” Ambassador Olkkonen said.
He underscored that yesterday’s discussion was conducted in an open, cordial and constructive atmosphere, saying the parties were looking into the future with optimistic lenses in terms of collaboration in trade, and deepening negotiations on free trade agreements.
“There are issues where we agreed and there are issues where we disagreed. But the most important thing about the political dialogue is that we have a structured process where we come together and debate issues frankly,” said Ambassador Olkkonen.
Yesterday’s discussion came on the backdrop of the European Investment Bank’s extension of credit lines to NMB, First Capital Bank and CABS, a gesture that testifies to how Zimbabwe and the EU’s relations are being strengthened.
“One example of the EU’s willingness to engage Zimbabwe is, indeed, the recent launch of the 12,5 million euros credit line to First Capital Bank under the Zimbabwe private sector facility, and another 12,5 million euros to NMB Bank by the European Investment Bank,” said Ambassador Olkkonen said.
“These two credit lines complement last year’s 50 million euros effort to put up a total of 40 million euros to support Zimbabwe’s private sector. This is an indication of our willingness to co-operate with Zimbabwe in various ways and through various sectors.”
On his part, Ambassador Manzou said the dialogue was “not an inquisition by anyone” as it was pivoted on upholding time-honoured and crucial principles of engagement where equality and reciprocity are key, notwithstanding the expression of conflicting views.
“Let this spirit continue to guide our dialogue and overall engagement. We may not always agree on everything all the time: but who does? Even members of the same family will not agree on everything,” he said.
“This is very normal among friends, among co-operating partners. What is important is to build on those areas where we have a meeting of minds while we manage our differences. And, through continued dialogue we will get to understand one another.”
He pointed out the milestones registered by the Government under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, and stressed that the remaining regime of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe should be unconditionally removed.
“We used the opportunity of the dialogue today (yesterday) to brief the EU on the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), how we are moving forward. We even started much earlier — on how we have stabilised the economy, how we are moving forward in terms of production, and how we have set targets for ourselves as a Government for the next five years in line with Vision 2030,” said Ambassador Manzou.
He added that the Zimbabwean delegation briefed the EU on developments in agriculture, particularly on how the Government was making progress in terms of the Global Compensation Deed.
Ambassador Manzou said although progress had been made regarding sanctions, it remained an issue of perception which sends negative signals as long as part of the sanctions remain.
Concerning human rights and electoral reforms, Ambassador Manzou said Zimbabwe has no human rights violations as the country is undertaking reforms to address such matters through requisite legislation.
He implored stakeholders to take cognisance of the essence of dialogue in seeking solutions on issues of human rights and electoral reforms, instead of relying on hare- brained social media stories.Herald