EU gives thumps up to new Zimbabwe govt

Friday, May 29, 2009

Harare - The European Union has expressed satisfaction with the progress that Zimbabwe's inclusive government has made so far in addressing challenges facing the country.

The Head of the European Commission (EC) delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Xavier Marchal, told journalists after paying a courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on Thursday that a lot of ground had been covered by the political parties in the coalition.

"There are a lot of positive things happening in the country," he said, adding that the launch of the 100-day and short-term economic recovery plan by the government was commendable.

He, however, urged the government to urgently address outstanding issues contained in the Global Political Agreement signed by the three parties last year and which led to the formation of the inclusive govwernment in February this year.

He agreed that some of the outstanding issues might take longer to be resolved but reiterated the EU's readiness to support the new government.

Mr Marchal said the EU and Zimbabwe needed to re-engage each other to restore cordial relations. "It is the desire of the EU to enter into this dialogue in a genuine matter," he said, adding that the time was now ripe for the two to start a dialogue.

He, however, said there was need for the country to respect property rights and stop new farm invasions, particularly in preserved land, to ensure the dialogue succeeded.

Investors, he said, were not willing to come and do business in Zimbabwe at the moment because of a poor property rights record.

The country was also failing to utilize its natural resources because of people who did not respect the environment, he said.

Mr Marchal said the EC, together with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, would soon undertake a visit to the Low Veld to assess the situation on farms.

Mr Mutambara urged the EU to immediately scrap sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe in 2000, saying these were no longer relevant.

He said having targeted sanctions on individuals who were part of the new government made no sense as this impacted on operations of the whole administration. "If we are committed to the new government, we should not tolerate sanctions on any one of us."

The inclusive government, he said, was working on re-engaging the EU to ensure the restrictive measures were removed, possibly in the next three months or so.

Mr Mutambara said new farm allocations should also stop as they gave the new government a bad image among the international community. The focus should now move from allocation to production to ensure food security, he said.