A GOVERNMENT delegation is on Wednesday expected to meet three senior European Union (EU) officials in Brussels to plead for the removal of sanctions and seek financial aid to revive the economy.
The delegation headed by Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Elton Mangoma of the MDC-T, will meet separately with EU Foreign minister Lady Cathy Ashton, director-general for development Stefano Manservisi, and Commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa of Zanu PF, Regional Integration and International Cooperation minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga of the other MDC formation, and Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha will complete the delegation.
Mangoma told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that the meeting would be the first after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai launched the re-engagement dialogue process with the EU last June.
“This is a further step in that dialogue process for the purpose of Zimbabwe to re-engage the EU and stop our isolation,” Mangoma said. “We are agreed that the meeting would be held under the Cotonou Agreement. This means putting forward our issues. At the last meeting, we had agreed that there would be a need for Zimbabwe and the EU to exchange their commitment plans. We have forwarded ours and we are hoping to get theirs in Brussels.”
The Cotonou Agreement is a comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the EU. The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing EU aid for development cooperation in ACP (Africa/Caribbean/Pacific) states under the agreement.
In a separate interview, Chinamasa said one of the key issues that would be discussed was development assistance that Zimbabwe has been denied over the years.
“We have a list of development assistance that has been denied under the ACP arrangement –– the European Development Fund that provides soft loans for development,” he said.
Mangoma said they would also want to come up with modalities for bilateral discussions with EU member states.
He said the meetings with the three top EU officials would give them an opportunity to discuss issues around Zimbabwe’s debt.
“We also have issues that we would want them to consider regarding debt –– what it is they can do as Europe. They also have their own issues which they will bring forward and we will give them a true position of where we are now,” Mangoma added.
Asked how they are going to respond to concerns that the unity government had not made much progress in implementing the Global Political Agreement because of the disharmony within government, Mangoma said they hoped they would be able to convince through their body language.
“The reason why we are going is for them to be able to look at our body language. It is not only about talking but they must be able to look at the body language and tell for themselves,” he said. “Obviously, in some areas, there is a good working relationship and in areas where there might be disagreements, we need to work on them and they must understand that certain issues might take longer.”
In February, the EU renewed its sanctions against Zimbabwe for another year, citing a lack of progress in implementing the power-sharing agreement.
Meanwhile, the South African facilitators –– Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu –– are in the country and expected to meet with the three principals to the GPA to try and bring to finality to the outstanding issues of the pact.
The three political parties are still to agree on the appointments of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gideon Gono, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, and the swearing-in of Deputy Agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett, among other issues.