HARARE: The European Union said Monday it is eager to mend relations with Zimbabwe but emphasized that the success of the re-engagement process is dependent on Harare’s ability to deliver free, fair and credible elections scheduled for mid-2018.
Visiting EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica made the remarks soon after meeting Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare.
Mimica, the first high-ranking EU official to visit Zimbabwe since 2009, said the bloc is looking forward to normalizing ties with Zimbabwe, which were severed in 2002 over alleged human rights abuses by Harare.
“My visit comes at the highest political level after 2009 but this only demonstrates that the European Union would like to be a reliable partner of Zimbabwe in the process of the historical political, democratic and economic transition,” Mimica said.
The EU is keen to support Zimbabwe in its reform agenda to open space for a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe, he said.
Since the advent of Mnangagwa’s new administration, the EU and other members of the international community previously hostile to Zimbabwe have begun to warm up to the country.
Mnangagwa has promised to hold free, fair and credible elections and to buttress this promise, the government has for the first time in over a decade invited election observers from the United Nations and the EU.
Acting Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Simon Khaya Moyo said the meeting was productive, with discussions on political and economic issues.
He said the EU would be sending another delegation, which would focus more on areas of economic cooperation.
Meanwhile, the EU announced a new funding package of 23 million euros to support Zimbabwe’s health sector and youth projects.
“The majority of the funding announced today (20.6 million euros) will be dedicated to ensuring equitable access to quality health services for women and children.
“Furthermore, a program with non-governmental organization Save the Children worth 2.8 million euros will help grassroots associations to work toward improving the livelihoods of 15,000 young women and men,” the EU said in a statement on Monday.