Felex Share Senior Reporter
The national peace and reconciliation process is wholly Zimbabwean and should be respected by every country, European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Phillipe Van Damme said yesterday.
Speaking after paying a courtesy call on Vice President Kembo Mohadi in Harare yesterday, Mr Van Damme also said the forthcoming harmonised elections were critical in shaping the EU’s relations with Zimbabwe.
“The main message I am taking back is that there is strong commitment from the Government to reconcile Zimbabweans and that the national reconciliation process is a very important process, but it should be fully Zimbabwean-owned process,” he said.
“We are ready to accompany whatever Zimbabweans think might be useful, but it is first and foremost a Zimbabwean process which we should respect.”
VP Mohadi oversees National Peace and Reconciliation. Mr Van Damme said the EU would not interfere in Zimbabwe’s affairs, but would “facilitate processes where Zimbabweans think it’s useful.”
On re-engagement and the forthcoming harmonised elections he said: “We have never stopped to engage with Government. We have programmes which we have and they have been pursued. The harmonised elections will have a critical impact. Zimbabweans have to work towards creating a level playing field to have peaceful elections. Our position on election observation is clear. The European Union Council had a discussion on Zimbabwe and came to a conclusion on January 22 that if invited for election observation we would favourably consider that invitation.”
VP Mohadi said of his meeting with Mr Van Damme: “We exchanged ideas on how we can possibly do it (national peace and reconciliation process), how we can enhance our outreach programmes and how we can bring all the stakeholders together so that the end result of our efforts becomes accepted by all and there is peace and tranquillity in Zimbabwe.”
Earlier, VP Mohadi had met British ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing, who said their discussion centred on re-engagement.
Ms Laing said they also talked about land compensation, Zimbabwe’s prospects of rejoining the Commonwealth and re-engagement with international financial institutions.
“We had a very constructive discussion around re-engagement, our common goal to normalise relationship with Zimbabwe and steps along the way including the importance of peaceful, free and fair elections,” she said.
“We are happy to be part of the wider international community effort to bring the land issue to resolution including compensation. The figures on compensation are for the Government and the Commercial Farmers Union to agree on. The British government does not accept the responsibility for the land, but we do accept that we have a role to play in supporting Zimbabwe tackle this very tricky issue.”
VP Mohadi responded: “We are not going to pay for the land ourselves because the land was never bought from us and we are only going to compensate on the improvements on the land. That is our stance and we have not moved away from it.”
On returning to the Commonwealth, he said: “If we felt that we should return and there are some benefits we are going to accrue with our returning, we will do it. We are open to the world and want to do business and cooperate with the world. We might be thinking about it and I cannot give a timeframe as to when we can do that.”
VP Mohadi said they also spoke about the repatriation of human skulls of some of Zimbabwe’s heroes and heroines from the First Chimurenga, which are in London. He said Ms Laing denied that the remains were being displayed in British museums.
“We also talked about the repatriation of the people that the British government said they want repatriated back to Zimbabwe,” VP Mohadi said.
“They are standing at about 2 500 for the time being. We said we would want to vet them before they leave the UK. We want to know whether or not they are Zimbabweans or if they are not fugitives who had run away from justice.”