New Zimbabwe (London)

16 August 2014

Zimbabwe: EU Remains Sceptical of Mugabe, Official

A SENIOR Germany official has said that the European Union (EU) remains sceptical of President Robert Mugabe's government despite the easing of sanctions and moves to re-engage Harare.

The official, who requested anonymity for diplomatic reasons, said while the human rights situation in Zimbabwe had significantly improved over the last few years, the EU remains unsure of the direction the country is taking.

The EU imposed sanctions said to be targeted at Mugabe and his lieutenants in 2002 for allegedly stealing elections and gross violations of human rights.

Mugabe blames the sanctions for plunging Zimbabwe into an economic tailspin.

However, since the formation of a government of national unity in 2009, Zimbabwe has enjoyed a period of relative peace leading the EU to begin a process of easing the punitive measures.

Most of the sanctions were lifted this year with only the travel ban on Mugabe and his wife, Grace, maintained.

But the rapprochement has been criticised by the opposition in Zimbabwe with MDC-T leader and former premier Morgan Tsvangirai saying Brussels insist on commitment to democratic values and principles as it re-engages with Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

Tsvangirai claims Mugabe stole his way to victory in last year's elections but his challenge against the outcome was dismissed by the country's top court.

Speaking to journalists who were on a week-long tour of Germany, the federal government official said the West remains sceptical of the 90-year-old Zimbabwean leader's plans.

"Our assistance to Zimbabwe will remain indirect, that is through the private partnership investments, not government-to-government because President Robert Mugabe is not a favourite of Western governments," he said.

He however, added that Zimbabwe remains one of their favourite investment destinations in Africa because of the human resource base the country had.

"Zimbabwe has educated people and infrastructure whose attributes any serious investor would need to do business and this makes the country unique from other African nations," he said.

Harre and Germany have also been at loggerheads since 2000 over the continued seizure of properties protected under bilateral agreements.

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