The Sunday Mail
Wallace Ruzvidzo and Richard Muponde
Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement drive, underpinned by the sustained implementation of National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), could potentially unlock massive economic returns for the country, including fresh funding from international financiers, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) Mr Jobst von Kirchmann has said.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Mail last week, following the conclusion of the Second Structured Dialogue Platform meeting on the arrears clearance and debt resolution process held in Harare recently, Mr Von Kirchmann said Zimbabwe was heading in the right direction.
He said President Mnangagwa’s undertaking to organise free and fair elections scheduled for later this year will help boost confidence in the country, unlocking Zimbabwe’s vast untapped potential.
Government’s re-engagement drive, he said, was a sure way of reinstating Zimbabwe back into the community of nations.
“I think apart from talking about re-engaging, Zimbabwe has also taken concrete steps towards re-engagement,” said Ambassador von Kirchmann.
“The efforts on arrears clearance and debt resolution are a good example as it is a reengagement with a multitude of partners sitting around tables and discussing openly.
“Another example is Zimbabwe’s wish to rejoin Commonwealth. These are all tangible proof of this policy.”
Mr Von Kirchmann said the bloc was upbeat about Zimbabwe’s current trajectory.
“I would like to make reference to President Mnangagwa’s pledge for free, fair, peaceful and inclusive elections during last week’s high-level dialogue on arrears clearance and debt resolution.
“As a representative of the EU, I fully subscribe to what he said because I believe the elections will be a catalyst for a prosperous future.
“I think elections, as President Mnangagwa describes them, can be an accelerator in the arrears clearance process,” he said.
Mr Von Kirchmann said strides taken by Zimbabwe would unlock the country’s potential and lead to the attainment of Vision 2030.
He added: “And I think free, fair, peaceful and inclusive elections will be a trigger to unlock Zimbabwe’s potential, including arrears clearance which will help Zimbabwe become an upper middle-income country by 2030. I think that will be a key moment for the country.”
Implementation of NDS1, he added, along with its “internationally-recognised indicators” has been welcomed by the international community.
“I also applaud the approach on the good governance side,” said Mr von Kirchmann.
“The Government has put forward their own National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and the indicators there are internationally recognised indicators.
“I think social participants in the last high-level meeting could see that it had a very positive resonance on the stakeholders and creditors who all applauded this approach.
“I have said publicly that basically with the offer from the Government, the ball is played back in our camp.
“So we now have to look at it and consult our headquarters and we have to sit together in sub-groups and discuss it and rapidly come to a roadmap which allows it to move forward over the coming years.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson Mr Livit Mugejo said Zimbabwe was prepared to engage all nations with a view to engendering development.
“We are a friend to all and enemy to none,” he said.
“Our engagement and reengagement policy entails that we engage everyone and normalise relations with those countries that we did not have good relations with.
“We have been pursuing this policy since the beginning of the Second Republic of His Excellency Dr E.D. Mnangagwa and the results are what we are witnessing now with these visits (of high-level foreign dignitaries).”
Political analyst and executive director at Global Economics 2020 Consultancy Group Mr Naboth Dzivaguru said the Second Republic had created a conducive environment for engagement.
“The country is headed in the right direction in so far as the political climate is concerned,” said Mr Dzivaguru.
“The New Dispensation has shown to be a doyen of the rule of law and democracy.
“The country is enjoying peace and stability, and these are conditions suitable for free and fair elections.
He added: “President ED Mnangagwa is on record castigating political violence and vowed to suppress the same as the elections are nearing.”
In recent months, Zimbabwe has hosted several high-level foreign dignitaries, signalling the efficacy of the country’s engagement and reengagement drive.
Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko was in the country last month on an official state visit that witnessed Harare and Minsk sign eight major economic deals.
Russia’s Minister of Foreign Economic Relations of the Sverdlovsk Region, Mr Vyacheslav Yarin was also on a week-long working visit to the country last week, while United States deputy secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs, Robert Scott also visited a few days ago.