The ongoing re-engagement efforts of the European Union (EU) have further intensified, with a multimillion dollar rescue packaged being pledged by Brussels for the ZANU PF government.
Almost $320 million is up for grabs from the EU, which indicated that the money will be made available as soon it lifts the restrictive measures it still has in place against Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. They are the only two that remain targeted after the EU removed the bulk of the restrictions earlier this year.
Addressing a European Development Fund Programming workshop this week, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said ZANU PF had faith that the measures would be removed. Chinamasa said the Treasury has already formulating an 'Aid Co-ordination Architecture' in light of the commitment by the EU.
"We have faith that the lapse of sanctions would, as promised by the European Union, pave way for normalisation of economic relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union," said Chinamasa.
Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe Ambassador Aldo Dell'Ariccia said the bloc is committed to normalisation of relations, saying the workshop, which brought together MPs and civil society, was "evidence of the re-engagement in action."
"The EU remains committed to re-engaging with Zimbabwe and we have the evidence of the re-engagement in action. (The) consultations with civil society organisations and Members of Parliament represent a key step in the process of finalising the National Indicative Programme that will help to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans," said Dell'Ariccia.
The EU has been steadily re-engaging with ZANU PF despite the flawed and highly disputed elections last July, and despite a failure by the regime to implement any reforms previously stipulated by the Brussels based bloc. Originally, the EU wanted to see key changes in Zimbabwe, including democratic, free and fair elections before removing any targeted sanctions.
But despite these changes not taking place, Europe has moved to secure its economic interests in Zimbabwe through the removal of the targeted measures. The Belgium based Antwerp World Diamond Council even admitted that it lobbied on ZANU PF's behalf for the removal of the measures, in order to secure Zim diamond sales from its auction floors.
The re-engagement has also been justified by academics as the 'the only possible way forward', and according to London's Chatham House think tank, a pragmatic diplomacy is required to 'normalise' relations with Mugabe.
Economist and social commentator Vince Musewe however said this re-engagement only helps "entrench Mugabe's dictatorship," at the expense of the rights of Zimbabwe. He said the justification given by Chatham House was "ridiculous."
"I do not understand the motive of the EU, because what has changed since the sanctions were imposed? Nothing, in fact things have gotten worse," Musewe told SW Radio Africa.
He added: "I am dumbfounded by this. And it is clearly not about what is best for Zimbabwe."
Musewe also wrote in an opinion piece this week that while Zimbabwe does need economic rescue and revival, it should not come at the cost of "rescuing a dictator."
"The first thing we need to do is to revive industry and create jobs and thereby reduce the suffering in the shortest period of time. This could be done through the establishment of a Zimbabwe re-industrialisation fund that is not administered by this government, but as a private equity fund that invests in those companies that can be revived quickly. This will reduce the pain," Musewe suggested
He added: "Second, I think that we must establish an Agriculture Revival Fund. Farmers should be compensated and all those who occupy land should get title so that they can be productive. This would trigger the revival of other sectors and create massive employment. Third, indigenisation laws must be suspended for the purposes of immediate economic recovery, thus attracting more foreign investment in other sectors."