By Plaxedes Sibanda, HARARE, March 24, (The Source) – Zimbabwe and Germany are seeking to restore political and economic relations following over a decade of frosty relations with the European Union where Europe’s economic power house is a member.
The European Union (EU) last year lifted its 12-year suspension of direct financial aid to the government of Zimbabwe, imposed after allegations of rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe’s administration citing improvements in the political environment after the adoption of a new constitution and peaceful polls last year.
Addressing journalists after a meeting with the visiting German director for sub-Saharan Africa and Sahel regions, Georg Schmidt, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said Zimbabwe owed Germany $739 million and that that the two countries were working to restore relations.
“As you may know Germany is the largest creditor among the Paris Club creditors, we owe Germany $739 million, which reflects naturally the level of economic engagement that existed before the sanctions hit us. So the efforts we are making are to restore that relationship,” he said.
Chinamasa said government will maintain the rule of law to attract investors.
“It’s a matter that is very close to our hearts as we try to woe investors to come back. They will need to come into a system and framework which is predictable,” he said.
Schmidt who is in the country on a two-day visit at the invitation of a German think tank to attend a conference on the progress of the implementation of Zimbabwe’s new constitution said observing the rule of law was critical in attracting investors to the country.
“It is important in political terms that people can feel that they are protected by the law but it’s also important in economical terms because it is the thing that foreign investors look at before they engage,” he said.
He said if there are disputes, they should be resolved amicably to gain investor confidence.
“Economics can never be separated from the political situation so political stability and economic prosperity go hand in hand,” said Schmidt.
He said the constitution was an important instrument to create a clear framework for rules of how the state is run.
Chinamasa said there was need for a “step-by-step approach” and understanding of the concerns of the two countries to move forward.
“We need to approach the whole issue with an open mind and spirit. As we go, we will see what speed we can make towards restoration of relations,” he said.
Earlier this year the EU gave Zimbabwe $270 million in development assistance with most of the funds going towards agriculture, health and institutional building.