EUROPEAN Union countries are moving to normalise relations with Zimbabwe as the country’s political situation has improved under the current coalition government.
Report by Staff Writer
Zimbabwe suffered diplomatic isolation and pariah status when the EU, United States, Australia and New Zealand imposed targeted sanctions against the country’s political leadership and businesses associated with Zanu PF in 2002 after violent and disputed presidential elections.
Britain, Denmark, Switzerland and Australia played leading roles in isolating Zimbabwe and in the West’s decision to cut millions of dollars in donor support.
Denmark closed its embassy in Harare and halted all aid to the country through the Danish International Development Agency, which had poured in more than US$750 million since 1995.The EU recently moved to lift the restrictions after the coalition government sent a bipartisan ministerial re-engagement committee to Brussels to mend fences.
The Danish government is now seeking to improve diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe and last week launched a US$12 million Credit for Agricultural Trade and Expansion fund in partnership with UKaid.
The fund is aimed at facilitating the raising of capital for lending to the country’s agricultural sector.
Denmark’s charge d’affaires Ketil Karlse told the Zimbabwe independent his country is also formulating a budget mission to provide recommendations and outline areas for a three-year continued programme (2013-2015) for Danish support to Zimbabwe in three components: private sector development in agriculture, rehabilitation of infrastructure and good governance, and democracy and human rights.
“Denmark has scaled up support for Zimbabwe very dramatically in just a few years and last year alone, we committed around US$40 million to development programmes and we have seen tangible results,” said Karlse.
Switzerland, which had also cut imports from Zimbabwe, mainly agricultural products as well as exporting machines and pharmaceutical to the country through the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation in 2002, has also made a comeback.
The Swiss government’s aid has risen significantly, especially in the health care sector through the provision of anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/Aids patients, as well as facilitating the training of public health workers in the country’s remote areas.
Australia became one of the first countries to commit to rehabilitating Zimbabwe’s water, sanitation and health infrastructure by commissioning US$10 million in aid after the formation of the coalition government in 2009.