EU drops bombshell

Source: EU drops bombshell –Newsday Zimbabwe

THE European Union (EU) has dropped a bombshell saying it might withdraw its support for Zimbabwe’s Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution process following the country’s disputed polls.

The bloc recently withdrew the US$5,8 million it had given to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to oil the election process.

In February, African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina, who headlined the crucial debt meeting with former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, said free and fair elections would be important in helping Zimbabwe navigate a debt overhang which has been compounded by protracted defaults and penalties.

During the engagements, Western diplomats expressed interest in helping Zimbabwe deal with its ballooning total consolidated debt of US$17,5 billion as part of re-engagement efforts on condition the country holds free and fair elections.

Speaking to NewsDay, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann yesterday said the government has taken a course different from the one they agreed in the arrears clearing negotiations.

“The government has put forward by themselves indicators like Corruption Perception Index … We are aiming to achieve certain goals over the years. These goals include free, fair, peaceful inclusive elections. They include an increase in civic space, electoral reforms and many more,” he said.

Government put forward at least 16 scores to show its willingness to clear the country’s debt.

“If I look where we are, what did we see as a political signal? The elections where you have seen the preliminary statements of our election observer mission (EOM), but also the Patriotic Act; so the political signals which were given were not in line with what was proposed in the process. Now on top of it we see a massive defamation and disinformation campaign.

“We will see how we move forward. The next step will be the presentation of the final report in November by our EOM. This is part of the administrative agreement the EU signed with the government. Our mission will come back in November … this will also have an influence on the way forward.

Asked to comment on claims that the government never requested for EU funding of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Kirchmann said: “The government wanted and agreed to this support. It was not an invention of the EU, but was a request by the government of Zimbabwe to have support of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Those who write these articles clearly want to undermine the relations between Zimbabwe and the EU.”

He said the disinformation and misinformation campaign against the EOM has been extended to the EU.

“If you look at what the EU is doing in Zimbabwe, we have a free trading agreement with the country, we have a development portfolio of over 300 million euros. Saying the EU is there to undermine Zimbabwe is inaccurate and equally baseless and unsubstantiated attacks on EU,” Kirchmann said.

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