European Africa directors press for Zim reforms

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A TEAM of European Africa directors is engaging government on the need for Zimbabwe to have free and fair elections to normalise relations with the European Union and the international community.

By Wongai Zhangazha

The team, which arrived in Harare on Wednesday and is leaving today, will meet government officials, opposition political parties representatives, prominent female politicians, civil society, business chief executives and officials from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The visit came days after European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and senior government officials to emphasise the same issue. Mimica also visited EU funded projects.

German Ambassador to Zimbabwe Thorsten Hutter on Wednesday told the Zimbabwe Independent that the directors are interested in engaging their interlocutors on the way forward for Zimbabwe.

“The Africa directors’ visit was firstly scheduled for February, but because of the death of MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai, the visit was postponed to give people time to mourn. This is the first joint visit of a group of Africa Directors from several European Union member states after many years and the main goal is to talk and listen,” said Hutter.

“There is obviously the important issue of re-engagement regarding the upcoming elections. The issues they are concerned about are similar to the issues raised by the EU delegation that was in the country recently.

“There are still a number of issues they think need to be worked on for instance the role of chiefs and military, or the access to state media for all.”

Hutter said the directors were also interested in the land reform programme and land use issues in the country.

“The major issue of concern is how to make Zimbabwe’s land commercially productive and how to solve the complex and politically charged issue of land use,” he said.

The four directors are Neil Wigan, Director for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Georg Schmidt, Regional Director of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel of the German Federal Ministry, Alle Dorhout, Director Sub Saharan Africa Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Netherlands) and Helena Rietz, Head of Africa Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Sweden).

On the economic front, the directors want to have an understanding of the scale of the challenges to bring the economy back on track and improve the lives of citizens.

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