THE European Union says it will not back down on its demands for free and credible elections to ensure a transition to democracy even if it means member states lose business opportunities in post-election Zimbabwe.
EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia told the Zimbabwe Independent last Friday that the bloc is unfazed by reports that it has lost lucrative business opportunities in Zimbabwe and other African countries due to its rigid insistence on democratic values and respect for human rights.
Reports say China has profited immensely due to its hands-off approach to political issues compared to the EU’s reluctance to do business with countries not observing democratic norms.
“There are so many European investors who stand ready to do business with Zimbabwe but at the moment the lack of transparency and commitment to implementing measures that Zimbabweans themselves agreed to in Sadc-facilitated agreements is the biggest deterrent,” said Dell’Ariccia.
“We do not negotiate our principles for the sake of business opportunities.”
Dell’Ariccia conceded that some progress had been made by the coalition government by passing the new constitution but expressed the EU’s concern at the failure to implement the entire elections roadmap as agreed.
“All the agreed reforms must be implemented so that there is a credible election that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people. When that happens, we will lift all remaining targeted measures and work with whichever government comes to power.”
Dell’Ariccia appeared to accept that the EU would not send election observers and monitors saying “they will follow Sadc and the African Union (AU)’s lead”.
“We stand ready to be guided by the AU and Sadc on the outcome of the elections. Under normal circumstances, the EU sends a monitoring team at least six months before elections. We would not accept an invitation to monitor elections at short notice.”
Dell’Ariccia also dispelled recent state media reports suggesting the EU had lost faith in the MDC-T and was preparing to work with Zanu PF following the publication of a document titled Quick Policy Insight- Zimbabwe’s 2013 General Elections: A genuine wind of change authored by the EU’s Policy Department.
“The paper in question is simply a collection of newspaper articles put together for the attention of the EU parliament. It simply summarises what newspapers have written and does not therefore reflect an official position on any of the Zimbabwean parties,” Dell’Ariccia said. According to the paper, “Zanu PF lacks democratic roots but the MDC has, for its part, done little to prove its trustworthiness”.
The paper concludes that rather than asking who is in power, “international analysts might want to put a stronger focus on how to actually improve Zimbabwe’s political culture and institutions”.