The Herald (Harare)

8 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Netherlands Keen to Fund Zim-Asset - Envoy

The Netherlands believes channelling development aid to Zimbabwe through non-governmental organisations is unsustainable and is keen to fund the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) if relations between the two countries normalise. The country's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mrs Gera Sneller, said yesterday that Zimbabwe had much to offer the world.

She was speaking after meeting Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo in Harare, who told her that channelling aid through the civil society was equivalent to disapproving the Government of the day.

"We have been providing aid for a long time, but the private sector now has to replace aid because working together through the private sector is the most sustainable way for development on both sides, not giving handouts," said Ambassador Sneller.

"We are looking at what Zim-Asset can do and how we can support the Government.

"Zimbabwe is at an important stage where the most important thing is to work with the private sector.

"Zimbabwe has so much to offer and if it improves the business climate, funding will come through private sector, foreign direct investment and trade."

The Dutch government, in line with the common EU position to impose illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe over its land reforms that benefited hundreds of thousands of people, stopped giving direct assistance to Zimbabwe over a decade ago and chose NGOs as its conduits.

Ambassador Sneller said Zimbabwe was strong in agriculture, tourism and financial services, while its citizens were welcoming and friendly.

Prof Moyo and his deputy, Supa Mandiwanzira, took the Dutch diplomatg to task over the illegal sanctions and a pirate radio station, Voice of the People, that The Netherlands is funding to broadcast illegally into Zimbabwe.

Ambassador Sneller said the embargo was never implemented in "a way that there could be no discussions on serious subjects and co-operation on the economic field and social areas".

But Prof Moyo, according to sources who attended the meeting, told her that by keeping the First Family on the sanctions list, the entire country was affected.

"He said it was better if they had removed President Mugabe who is the face of the country and left everybody else.

"The Ambassador was asked what the EU needed Zimbabwe to do for them to remove sanctions on the President and she had difficulties in answering that to the extent that she only said they would be able to assist if the new Constitution is properly implemented," said one source.

Another said Prof Moyo told her that by funding the Voice of the People, The Netherlands was clearly angling for illegal regime change.

"The minister took an interesting approach, saying The Netherlands supported the liberation struggle and one thing they did was to establish a radio station in support of the struggle, but it does not happen now when Zimbabwe is in the course of enjoying its independence and realising economic freedom," said the source.

The bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement was also discussed in the meeting, with Prof Moyo saying Government honoured its obligations.

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