EU policies on Zim based on facts, Envoy

Source: EU policies on Zim based on facts, Envoy – NewZimbabwe 05/05/2016

EU member states and the international community make decisions basing on Zimbabwe’s legal framework and investment policy frame work, as opposed to assertions by government that negative media reports were scaring away potential investors, says Ambassador Philippe Van Damme.

The EU envoy to Zimbabwe said this to journalists at an event held to mark World Press Freedom day which was hosted by MISA-Zimbabwe at the Quill club, in Harare, Wednesday evening.

Van Damme was invited to share Brussels’ view on media freedom and freedom of expression.

“I have to be very frank; I do not think an international investor can make decisions based on newspaper reports. The decisions are made based on facts. The legal framework, the credibility of the legal framework, rule of law in terms of the judiciary, these are things which influence investment,” he said.

The ruling Zanu PF government routinely accuses the private media of what it says are “negative reports” which Harare claims are the main cause for low uptake of investment opportunities by the west.

As a result, the government has also threatened to shut down private media organisations.

But ambassador Van Damme said instead of accusing the media, Harare should see to it that its economic policies were favourable while protecting media freedom and the rule of law as dictated by the constitution.

Among the laws that have been blamed for Zimbabwe’s negative image is the controversial indigenisation policy. The legislation which government has been failing to sincerely interpret for almost a decade, apparently gives majority share- holding to local blacks in some foreign business ventures.

“Restrictions (media laws and policies) should be used within the framework of the International Declaration of Human Rights and within the framework of the African Charter on Human Rights which are universal values which Africans have adopted as well,” Ambassador Van Damme said.

He said the Zimbabwean media were missing out on developmental debates.

“There is not enough debate on the development and substantive issues; on what are the economic policies, the social policies and the environmental issues which this country should develop,” he said.