via Zim wants to mend rift with Britain – DailyNews Live by John Kachembere 24 MARCH 2014
Zimbabwe has asked France to help the troubled southern African nation mend relations with former colonial ruler Britain.
Christopher Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s deputy Foreign Affairs minister, asked French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse to assist in resolving a bilateral dispute between Zimbabwe and the UK government that has lasted close to 14 years.
“Now that France has decided to assist Zimbabwe again, we will be glad if you may talk to your friend, whom we are emotionally attached to, to re-engage with us,” Mutsvangwa said last week.
“We want the British and their companies to come and resume business here. They must have long-term perspectives on Zimbabwe and not base their goals on emotions.”
Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe soured in 1997 when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government pulled out of talks to fund President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms.
Mugabe also accused the British of meddling in the country’s affairs by funding his political opponents.
At the height of the diplomatic feud, Britain and fellow European Union (EU) member countries in 2002 imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle.
Last month, Mugabe hinted that he was ready to engage with the former colonial master as a way of reviving the country’s ailing economy.
“The British, we don’t hate you, we only love our country better,” Mugabe told the crowd that helped him celebrate his 90th birthday in Marondera.
Mutsvangwa said the British have more to lose if they perpetuate a stand-off with the southern African country.
“The world has now become flat and one can get money from anywhere in the world,” Mutsvangwa said.
“The British may lose more if they remain playing an adversarial role to Zimbabwe.
“We have many resources here and many European countries and other emerging nations would be glad to help us.”
Although the EU and the United States condemned Zimbabwe’s last election as “deeply flawed”, there have been deliberate moves to re-engage and normalise relations with the Zanu PF-led government, starting
with the calibrated removal of targeted sanctions against most of Mugabe’s cronies.
This has paved the way for the West to begin giving money directly to Zimbabwe or to adopt various economic turnaround projects that should be the responsibility of the government.
In recent months, Western donors have announced copious amounts of funds in support of the government, reminiscent of post-war rebuilding efforts.
On Wednesday last week, Zimbabwe received a financial bail-out worth $53 million, and of this amount
$35 million is funded by Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.
On Tuesday, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation gave the government a grant of
$9 million to boost livestock production in Matabeleland North.
About two weeks ago, the Swedish government gave the Labour ministry $15 million to assist children in the country.
This financial commitment is not tied to any specific programme and, according to Lars Ronnas, Sweden’s envoy to Zimbabwe, the Zanu PF-led government can use the money as it sees fit.
Britain recently gave $10 million to enable the country’s poor children to access basic education.