Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Zimbabwe Ready to Engage European Union Countries

‘Zim ready to engage EU countries’

Herald Reporter

GOVERNMENT is prepared to engage individual European Union countries in bilateral dialogue to resuscitate relations severed following the imposition of illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe by the bloc, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has said.

Addressing journalists on the outcome of the Sadc Council of Ministers meeting held in South Africa last week, Minister Mumbengegwi said a process of dialogue would soon be undertaken for the reengagement with countries that maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"We are ready for dialogue with these countries, our relations with EU countries are both bilateral and regional and there is nothing to prevent the countries from engaging in bilateral dialogue with Zimbabwe," he said.

Minister Mumbengegwi said Government was grateful for the support and solidarity Sadc had offered Zimbabwe, which has sent a clear signal that the region has full confidence in Harare’s efforts to turn around the economy.

He said the Council of Ministers meeting had noted that it would be difficult to mobilise resources to support Zimbabwe’s economic recovery programme while the sanctions were still in place.

The meeting, Minister Mumbengegwi said, urged Sadc countries to support and call for the lifting of the sanctions while resolving that the regional bloc should hold an extraordinary summit to mobilise support for Zimbabwe.

"Most important is the realisation by the regional bloc for the call against the sanctions at summit level, which has more impact.

"The ministers noted that a united and combined voice against sanctions would be more effective."

Finance Minister Tendai Biti briefed the meeting on Zimbabwe’s Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme and presented a report of the Sadc finance ministers meeting on Harare, which had met earlier.

"In considering the report of the Ministers of Finance, the Council of Ministers noted and appreciated that Zimbabwe has made substantial progress in implementing the decisions of the extraordinary summit held in Pretoria, South Africa on January 26 and 27," he said.

Minister Mumbengegwi said the decisions included the establishment and activation of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, passing of Constitutional Amendment (No. 19) Bill (now Act) by Parliament, the swearing in of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers and the formation of the inclusive Government.

He said the ministers noted that addressing economic challenges as outlined in the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme will require immediate emergency financial support estimated in the region of US$2 billion, comprising of US$1 billion in budgetary support and US$1 billion in self-liquidating lines of credit.

The council of ministers meeting urged member states to support the Economic Recovery Programme for Zimbabwe while mandating Ministers of Finance and the Sadc executive secretary to collectively engage donor countries to mobilise support for the country.

He said the Council of Ministers urged Sadc to assist in normalising Zimbabwe’s status at the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank.

"I am glad to note that Sadc has already started its engagement with the AfDB as evidenced by the invitation extended to the AfDB president, Dr Donald Kaberuka to attend the Meeting of Ministers of Finance," he said.

Dr Kaberuka also issued a statement calling on the international community to help Zimbabwe overcome its challenges.

The meeting was a follow-up to the 2007 Sadc extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania that tasked the Sadc executive secretary to undertake a study on Zimbabwe’s economic situation and come up with recommendations on a possible Sadc economic assistance package for Zimbabwe.

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