Saturday, 15 October 2016

REFORM OR DIE, EU TELLS MUGABE

PRESIDEDNT Robert Mugabe’s government will have to convince the international community that it is committed to reform, with tangible proof before any budgetary support can begin to flow in, the European (EU) ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philippe van Damme has said.


Van Damme was addressing participants in a discussion hosted by social media news platform 263Chat in Harare yesterday, where he denied government claims that the EU supported “regime change” agents in Zimbabwe.

“The government has put on the table the Lima Plan. It is an ambitious and homegrown plan that, if implemented, will help this country. But we were not involved in crafting it. However, it is important that the plan is implemented,” he said.

“If they can provide a detailed reform agenda and we have not seen that, then we can begin to mobilise resources. Without that, we have never said we will help the government with a bailout. But we will help with expertise in constitutional reform.

“We are also insisting on not only economic reform, but also the political side. I would love to see things moving a lot quicker in terms of reforms and constitutional alignment. We were faced with suspicion on trying to deal with mending relations with Zimbabwe, but it’s more relaxed now.”
Van Damme said as long as corruption was not credibly tackled, the EU would not inject any money.

“[It] would be waste we can’t justify. There is nothing worse than impunity, say; recent exposés have not led to any action like prosecution! The reason why we insist on reforms is to help the government to grow out of its problems,” he said.

“Poor regulations, lack of rule of law and contempt of court are fuelling corruption in Zimbabwe. Address that and we are willing to help the government in implementing reforms in Zimbabwe.”
Opposition parties have accused the international community of double-standards and cutting deals with Mugabe’s government, especially following the conclusion of the 2013 general elections, questionably won by Zanu PF.

But Van Damme yesterday said the EU had not changed the way it deals with Zimbabwe’s government, despite the wholesale removal of top Mugabe aides from its sanctions list, leaving the 92-year-old leader and his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe.

“We have not changed our implementation modalities. The money we bring still goes through development partners. There is no ambiguity around that. The partial lifting of the targeted measures was to create space for dialogue. At first, there was a lot of suspicion, a lack of trust. There has been dialogue, especially with the line ministers at Justice (VP Emmerson Mnangagwa), Finance (Patrick Chinamasa) and Agriculture (Joseph Made),” the EU envoy said.

Responding to allegations that the EU, along with other Western countries, supported activities aimed at forcing Mugabe out of power, Van Damme said: “We are surprised that the accusations are that we are propping up the government and supporting activities that are meant to remove it. The truth is the EU has never funded any form of regime change activity and we challenge those who are accusing us to come forward with the evidence.” Newsday

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