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New EU chief confident of Zim re-engagement

NEW European Union (EU) ambassador Philippe Van Damme has described President Robert Mugabe as “an intelligent man who is sharp”.

Elias Mambo

Van Damme, who presented his credentials to Mugabe on October 2, has been meeting key players in Zimbabwe’s political landscape in an effort to understand the political climate as well as to forge ways of normalising the relations between Zimbabwe and EU member states.

In an interview, Van Damme said besides Mugabe, he had also met MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai as well as members of civil society.

“I met President Mugabe, senior government and Zanu PF officials and I have also met the MDC-T leader Tsvangirai so as to get an appreciation of the political climate,” Van Damme said. “We had a lovely chat with Mugabe where we discussed real issues as we try to look for ways to help this country. I found him to be a very intelligent and sharp leader in our 55-minute meeting. We had a constructive discussion.”

Van Damme also said since the lifting of targeted sanctions under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, the EU is ready to engage government on developmental issues, policy dialogue and institutional implementations.

“Re-engagement is a gradual process and can only be successful if there is mutual trust from both parties,” he said. “We are still in the process of re-engaging, but this should be on both sides. The steps might be small, but very significant in building a mutual relationship between the EU and Zimbabwe.

“We can now help government on strategic approaches to various issues and we are now allowed to give support to the implementation of the International Monetary Fund’s Staff-Monitored Programme.”

He said the EU’s involvement would enhance positive visibility of Zimbabwe on the international scene and assist in building investor confidence.

Zimbabwe is set to receive about US$300 million in development assistance from the EU in 2015 after the bloc lifted measures under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement which it imposed in 2002 in the aftermath of gross violations of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law by government.

Van Damme said the assistance would be given in terms of the Partnership Agreement the EU signed with Zimbabwe and 77 other African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in Cotonou (Benin) in 2000 aimed at promoting sustainable development in these countries.

He also said he hopes Zimbabwe will now be in a position to rebuild an enabling environment in terms of attracting investors who are the “oil” to drive the economic engine of the country.

3 thoughts on “New EU chief confident of Zim re-engagement”

  1. ronaldos says:

    If Mugabe is such an intelligent man, why is Zimbabwe in such a mess, actually bankrupt? He also has the distinction of holding the world record for currency inflation. Surely the new chief of the EU knows this!!!!!
    It looks to me as if the new EU chief is not the sharpest tool in the box, and that’s not the type of person you want dealing with Zimbabwe’s future. To put it bluntly he seems to be boot licking the old English man in the hope that Bob might see the light of day and change his way.

  2. Buffalojump says:

    The EU is also a mess.

  3. Klepto Tanyanyiwa says:

    Philippe Van Damme is yet another member of the swarm of European ‘diplomats’ that have rotated into Zimbabwe.
    (Note – he is NOT “the EU chief”)
    Since the term of office of the European Union’s foreign affairs ‘Minister’ Catherine Ashton recently ended, the EU has apparently become more loosely coupled and is now unsupervised by the new incumbent Federica Mogherini.
    Van Damme’s predecessor, the notorious Aldo Dell’Ariccia was alleged to be the one who steered EU policy towards bootlicking and financially sponsoring the Zanu PF criminal enterprise. It is also rumoured that he has been nominated to get free lifetime membership to Zanu PF.
    Deborah Bronnert of the UK was a disasterous failure, and her successor Catriona Laing has not started well if she intends to project intelligence, integrity and factual accounts.
    The new EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini who replaced Catherine Ashton probably has not had time to appraise the current diplomatic circus in Zimbabwe where the gaggle of PC ultra-liberals are falling over each other in praise-singing of the unrepentant Zanu PF mafia.

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