3 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Zim/EU Engage Over Sanctions

Photo: IRIN
A fresh produce market in Mbare, Harare.

The business delegation which toured Europe last week called for lifting of European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe and urged the block's leadership to normalise relations with Harare, ambassadors to the EU countries said.A high-level delegation of top executives led by Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president and Schweppes Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Charles Msipa presented their case on the need to lift the sanctions and to explain how the illegal embargo is affecting investment.

CZI earlier said the country's manufacturing lobby group was committed to the success of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, which has identified foreign direct investment as an important aspect to support the country's medium-term policy's economic growth objectives.

Some of the countries visited include Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland. The delegation engaged policy making organs of the European Commission and the business sector represented by the European Business Council for Africa and the Mediterranean.

It also engaged senior foreign affairs officials of the countries they visited and various business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce of Belgium-Luxembourg-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific, the Southern Africa Netherlands Chamber of Commerce and the Netherlands Business Council.

"The delegation explained the futility of pursuing investment opportunities in Zimbabwe while the sanctions remained as this branded the whole country as insecure," said Zimbabwean Ambassador to European Communities, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg Dr Margaret Muchada.

"It therefore called for the lifting of the sanctions against the country and its leadership."

She said the EU policymakers and the business sectors were receptive to the message.

"The Belgian government showed keen interest in the area of business to business engagement and sought to know how the EU businesses were reacting to the delegation's message particularly in the United Kingdom," said Ambassador Muchada.

"Everyone sounded very optimistic during the wrap up session. At the end of the day, the fundamental question was how this message towards normalisation of relations would be utilised by the politicians within the European Council in light of the review of its sanctions against Zimbabwe in February 2014."

The EU will meet next month to review its position regarding the illegal sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe. In France, the delegation interacted with the business community as well as government officials from ministries and institutions responsible for promoting France's trade, investment and development co-operation in Africa.

Zimbabwean Ambassador to France Mr David Hamadziripi said the French business community was ready to engage with their Zimbabwe counterpart and have already agreed on the next steps to formalise the collaboration.

"The visit in general can be seen as marking the opening of potentially fruitful dialogue and collaboration between Zimbabwe and French business associations and their respective members," Ambassador Hamadziripi said.

He said the Zimbabwean delegation wanted to resume collaboration and contacts with their French counterparts. The message was received positively. Ambassador Hamadziripi added that the delegation also called for the removal of the sanctions which they described as an obstacle to the establishment of normal commercial relations between Zimbabwe and France.

The delegation also underlined the negative impact of the sanctions on the economy and the general populace of Zimbabwe and their French "interlocutors noted the message."

"There was interest in doing business in Zimbabwe," said Ambassador Hamadziripi. "There were also requests for clarification about the policy frameworks and the implementation of the indigenisation programme and the public/private partnerships. The delegation satisfactorily responded to the requests."

Mr Msipa said the EU meetings were "fruitful" and the delegation would issue a comprehensive statement on the mission after briefing the Office of the President.

Aldo Del'Ariccia, the head of the EU delegations in Zimbabwe played a key role in the preparation of a comprehensive programme for the Zimbabwe private sector delegation to Europe.

The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 in response to land reform programme which sought to resettle the previously marginalised black Zimbabweans.

Last year, the EU delisted some individuals and firms, including the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, the country's biggest diamond miners from its sanctions list.

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