By Leopold Munhende
EUROPEAN Union (EU) Head of Delegation Timo Alkkonen says the bloc has identified positives from Zimbabwe’s Staff Monitored Programme, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) policy meant to reduce government expenditure and set straight the country’s waning economy.
Alkkonen was addressing journalists on the sidelines of a series of Zimbabwe-EU Political Dialogue sessions Wednesday.
“We have seen positives, positive steps…also the fact that there is a staff monitored programme by the IMF that attempts to reform the economy.
“We wanted to have this dialogue for some time and we are happy that we are having it, I am very happy that we have reached that stage,” said Alkkonen.
Zimbabwe agreed to the IMF policy on 15 May and will have the multilateral institution review the country’s economy quarterly until 2020.
Part of a raft of policies government consented to include, stopping in the printing of more bond notes which have flooded the market and were losing value at an alarming rate, reducing its expenditure and seizing to borrow from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to finance its unjustifiable wants.
“This is part of the re-engagement which was talked of when President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over in the new dispensation.
“He made engagement and reengagement a major pillar, since then we have been meeting informally…we see this as an important step in our dialogue,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Permanent Secretary James Manzou in reference to a leader who has been visiting parts of the globe in search of both investors and re-engagement after his rise to power.
Although Zimbabwe has not been enjoying any cordial relations with the Western bloc since the former allies fell out at the turn of the century, the EU has gradually removed restrictive measures on all but one individual and company between 2002 and 2014.
Zimbabwe has been having informal meetings with members of the union over the past decade and this is the first formal meeting recognised by the bloc after almost two decades of acrimony.
The country still enjoys duty free access to European markets with trade of about USD689 million in the last year.