Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
OPPOSITION parties and analysts have commended the launch of formal dialogue between Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) saying if successful, the talks could contribute towards the country’s economic growth.
Zimbabwe and the EU on Wednesday launched the official dialogue based on Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement that governs relations between member states of the African-Caribbean Pacific (ACP) regions and the EU.
The talks are in line with President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement policy after years of frosty relations between Zimbabwe and the bloc.
MDC-T deputy president, Mr Obert Gutu, welcomed the latest development saying isolation has never been beneficial to Zimbabwe.
“It’s a welcome and significant development for Zimbabwe’s international relations because we have always said Zimbabwe needs the world more than the world needs Zimbabwe. We are a small country and it did not benefit us at all, it did not benefit our people in any way for us to continue to be branded a pariah state. We would also want to encourage continuous engagement; of course on a win-win kind of template. Today’s international relations should speak to issues that benefit citizens of all nations big or small,” said Mr Gutu.
He said the re-engagement exercise could also improve trade relations with the EU as Zimbabwe used to export many products including beef and horticultural products to Europe.
Mr Gutu said as the country works to improve relations with the international community it should also improve its ease of doing business which is still problematic for investors in some areas.
“In other countries like in the United States for instance it takes only five minutes to register a private limited company online; only five minutes. But in this country it can take up to several weeks or months to register a company. This are some of the low hanging fruits that we can improve on.
“You don’t need money to do some of these things but just cutting on government bureaucracy,” said Mr Gutu.
Coalition of Democrats president Mr Elton Mangoma echoed Mr Gutu’s sentiments.
He said there is nothing worth celebrating in isolation.
“The engagement should not just be with EU. There is no benefit in living on an island while you are not an island. It’s always good for people to talk. All the issues that we worry about would be resolved through talking,” said Mr Mangoma.
Bulawayo-based political analyst Mr Methuseli Moyo said Zimbabwe actually regressed for two decades while pursuing an isolationist stance.
Mr Moyo said re-engagement with the EU could change lives of ordinary Zimbabweans if it is supported and succeeds.
“The launch of formal dialogue between Zimbabwe and EU is a major milestone in the country’s re-engagement effort with the international community, and must be supported by all patriotic and well-meaning nationals, including the opposition by the way. It is a process that if successful, has a huge positive impact on the lives of the people, no matter their ideological or political position and affiliation,” said Mr Moyo.
“Zimbabwe has for 20 years been stagnating or deteriorating, and must develop in order to improve the livelihoods of the people. We hope no one will act contrary and start to throw sand in the food like they say. The people are hungry and need to eat. The politicians’ hunger for power must not ride on the people’s hunger.”—@nqotshili