Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
The European Union has commended Government’s political and economic reform agenda saying it shows its seriousness in moving the country forward.
This was said by Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe Ambassador Timo Olkkonen while addressing a Press conference soon after the launch of the formal dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU.
“We think the Government is serious about its reform agenda and we have seen positive steps in terms of the constitutional alignment, and new legal proposals (Bills) are coming up and that testifies the seriousness of Government moving forward.
“Also that there is a staff-monitored programme by the IMF in attempts to reform the economy is a positive development,” said Ambassador Olkkonen.
Under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), Government has committed to political and economic reforms to deepen personal freedoms and democratic principles while making the country attractive to investors.
Parliament has since passed a number of laws to align them with the constitution while others are at various stages of promulgation.
However, Ambassador Olkkonen said the EU was concerned about recent arrests of seven members of various civic organisations on charges of subversion.
This is despite the fact that due process is taking place and that the arrests followed alerts on the potential for violent uprisings against a background of similar actions in January this year and last August.
The seven activists were arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport upon arrival from the Czech Republic and the Maldives where they were reportedly receiving training to cause terror in the country and unseat President Mnangagwa.
The training was allegedly sponsored by the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), an NGO based in Belgrade, Serbia, which specialises in training regime change activists in various countries.
However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou said the issue of the seven activists could not be discussed as it was before the courts.
“This is a dialogue that we have embarked on and this is a dialogue meant to build trust between the two sides. Let me say all issues are on the table for discussion,” he said.
“We discussed everything including the issues of sanctions on the Republic of Zimbabwe which must go. We discussed everything, including the issue of NGOs (that) the EU raised, but I think you know very well that is a tenet of law that issues before the courts are sub-judice and therefore those issues should be left to the courts to decide.
“The issues cannot be commented on at this moment.”
Ambassador Manzou said the dialogue would be an ongoing process with the parties meeting twice a year.
The launch was attended by several ambassadors from EU member States and several senior Government officials.