HARARE, March 4 (The Source) – The British secretary for international development, Mark Lowcock will this week visit Zimbabwe, for the second time in two years as relations between the West southern African country and the west continue to thaw.
Zimbabwe’s relations with western governments broke down in 2000 over allegations of human rights violations and electoral theft against President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, charges which he denies, but ties have thawed in recent times.
The European Union lifted sanctions, mostly travel bans and financial restrictions, on all senior Mugabe allies, but still maintain them against the veteran leader and his wife, along with a state-owned arms firm.
In recent times EU member states – Denmark, Switzerland, France have indicated intentions to restore normal ties with the bloc recently giving Zimbabwe $270 million in development assistance after lifting a 12 year embargo on the provision of direct financial support to the country.
“Mr Lowcock will also meet with senior members of the Government of Zimbabwe, including the Honourable Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa, to discuss economic growth in Zimbabwe,” said the British Embassy in a statement on Wednesday.
The UK has the largest bilateral aid programme in Zimbabwe and has supported the country to the tune of £73 million ($112 million) between last and this year. The funding is channelled through multilateral institutions such as United Nations agencies, international non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
Some of the projects it has supported include infrastructure, governance, food security, education, water, sanitation and health.
“The UK remains committed to supporting Zimbabwe’s poorest people and to doing what we can to reinforce democracy, stability and prosperity here,” said Lowcock in the statement.