Source: Top EU envoy heads for Harare – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 6, 2018
AS the positive energy around President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and the rest of the world continues, the European Union (EU) is sending its International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica to Harare, NewsDay can reveal.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mimica announced this on his Twitter page and his journey will also take him to South Africa.
“Later on this week, I will be visiting South Africa and Zimbabwe. Looking forward to engaging with the new authorities in both countries and visiting EU-funded projects! #AU,” Mimica said.
The EU delegation in Harare confirmed Mimica will arrive on Monday and is set to meet Mnangagwa.
“Yes, he is coming and will meet the President as well as launch three projects in Mbare,” an official said.
Mnangagwa has declared his government was willing to engage everyone including countries hitherto seen by former President Robert Mugabe as enemies.
Influential former colonial master Britain has already had two ministers in Zimbabwe since Mugabe’s fall in November last year while China has openly declared its wish to have a Zanu PF government after the elections expected later this year.
EU ambassador to Harare, Phillipe Van Damme last week told local radio that the regional bloc had approached Mnangagwa with a request to have the country’s military and traditional leaders, known for their support of Zanu PF, make public pronouncements that they will respect the outcome of the elections.
“And that those who have in the past been accused of not being neutral where they were supposed to be neutral that they stand up and make a formal public plea to all the others that they will respect their constitutional obligations. It is a responsibility of the leadership in its different dimensions to stand up and make sure that things trickle down to the basics (grassroots),” Van Damme said.
His remarks seem pointed at the army in particular, which in the past has made statements to the effect that they will not accept an electoral outcome that does not favour Zanu PF.
Zimbabwe’s securocrats meddling in the country’s politics in support of Zanu PF was epitomised by the infamous “straight jacket” statement on the eve of the 2002 presidential elections. Since then, other top military officials have made statements that insinuate they would not respect an electoral outcome that does not favour Zanu PF. The opposition in the past few weeks has also claimed that government had deployed the military in rural areas ahead of expected elections later this year.
But Foreign Affairs minister Retired Lieutenant General Sibusiso Moyo said the country’s military would only be there to guarantee the security of the vote “and make sure everyone accepts the people’s will”. He added the army’s leadership had committed to accepting the upcoming poll results to regional power broker Sadc.
Van Damme has also indicated that the EU was happy with “the progress” Zimbabwe had made since Mnangagwa took charge last year.