The visiting European Union’s managing director for Africa Koen Vervaeke has encouraged Zimbabwe to continue on the path of reform and engagement in order to enhance not only relations between Brussels and Harare, but also the livelihoods of Zimbabweans.
Speaking after an intense working visit in Zimbabwe’s capital over the weekend, Vervaeke said: “Based on extensive discussions with my interlocutors, we hope that the commitment to take the reform process in Zimbabwe forward and to address the violent events of the recent past will translate into tangible action.
“Implementing political and economic reforms is crucial for the country to enter into a positive trajectory, and a broad national consensus would cement internal support. Progress on the reforms will also offer space for a strengthened partnership with the EU.”
The visit comes a month after a council meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers last month resolved not to extend sanctions against any individuals in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
However, a spokesperson for the EU said, the decision could be reviewed should the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorate any further.
“This decision was taken in light of our objective to encourage the rule of law as set out in Zimbabwe’s constitution. We have seen a crackdown against demonstrators in January and the disproportionate use of force by the authorities, that called into question this commitment.
“The key question is to understand whether the old system has been dismantled … or it remains in place under a different leadership.
“All decisions on listings including new listings can be swiftly adopted if the situation requires it. We are monitoring the situation very closely and stand ready to adjust our decision,” said the EU spokesperson.
In his discussions with his Zimbabwean counterparts, Vervaeke also engaged on matters of significant concerns regarding the country’s situation, particularly in terms of addressing the consequences of Cyclone Idai and the food security crisis.
The EU is engaged in support for both. During his visit, Vervaeke met with the Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi; Ambassador James Manzou, the permanent secretary in the Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Virginia Mabhiza, the permanent secretary in the Justice ministry, MDC president Nelson Chamisa, the Human Rights Commission and representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations, trade unions and the diplomatic community.