Sweden scales down operations in Zim

Munyaradzi Wasosa

SWEDEN says it will maintain its firm stance towards the Zimbabwean government over human rights abuses and repressive media laws, and has revealed plans to scale down operations in the cou

ntry.


In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent last week, Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, Kristina Svensson, said her country was sticking to the European Union resolution on Zimbabwe.


“We are members of the European Union, and we are fully supportive of the EU’s position on Zimbabwe,” Svensson said. “We will therefore not change our position.”


Zimbabwe fell out with the international community, including the European Union, in 2000 following the government’s violent land invasions and elections that were widely viewed as flawed.


The EU imposed targeted sanctions on government officials which bar them from entering EU member states. Svensson however said she was optimistic that the frosty relations between Harare and Stockholm would soon thaw.


“I sincerely hope that we soon will be back to a normalised relation between our two countries where our two governments cooperate, and we can intensify our support to Zimbabwe,” Svensson said.


However, in the meantime operations were being scaled down, she said.

“This year we will further decrease the number of staff in the embassy and one of the posts will be moved to Mozambique,” Svensson said. “We are definitely relocating our regional department of Water Resources Development to Mozambique on August 15 this year.”


In a statement to mark the Swedish National Day, Svensson also said Swedish aid in Zimbabwe has drastically decreased due to what she termed “changes that have taken place” in the country.


“Although our Swedish community in Zimbabwe has decreased considerably during the last few years, we remain committed,” Svensson said.


Sweden recently invited Zimbabwean journalists on a study tour of the country’s media system in a bid to rebut government claims that Sweden’s media laws are worse than Zimbabwe’s draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.


Information minister Jonathan Moyo blocked state media journalists from going to witness the Scandinavian country’s undemocratic media laws.

In 2003, the Swedish parliament adopted a bill for global democracy in which economic aid would be given to countries that uphold basic principles of democracy and respect for human rights.


“The principles that Sweden supports today are the same principles that were supported by (Swedish) missionaries,” Svensson said.


“They are the same principles that motivated us to support the future leaders of this country.”

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