Britain eyes Zim business deals

President Mugabe speaks to European Union Ambassador Mr Philippe Van Damme after accrediting him at State House in Harare yesterday. — Picture by Regis Nyandima

President Mugabe speaks to European Union Ambassador Mr Philippe Van Damme after accrediting him at State House in Harare yesterday. — Picture by Regis Nyandima

Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
The British government is feeling the heat from Zimbabwe’s successful Look East Policy and will at the end of this month send a high-powered trade delegation to explore possible areas of investment, especially in energy and infrastructure sectors.
This comes after China and Russia signed multi-billion-dollar deals in various sectors, with Zimbabwe in August and September respectively, showing that the Look East Policy was bearing fruit.

The Chinese deals were mainly in infrastructure, energy and agriculture, while the over $3 billion deals signed by the Russians were concentrated in the mining sector, especially the extraction of platinum.

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Zimbabwe deliberately adopted the Look East Policy after a fallout with Western countries that sided with Britain over the land reform programme which empowered the majority.

No meaningful investment came from Britain in the last decade as the former coloniser sidelined Zimbabwe in its trade deals after imposing illegal sanctions on the country for daring to embark on land reform.

Newly-accredited British ambassador Ms Catriona Laing revealed the impending visit of the delegation after presenting her credentials to President Mugabe at State House yesterday together with four other diplomats from the European Union, Mauritius, South Sudan and Swaziland.

She said the new development was inspired by the need to support Government’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.

“For the first time in many years, we are sponsoring an official trade delegation to Zimbabwe at the end of October,” she told journalists after presenting her credentials.

“A number of different companies will be coming here to look at areas in energy and infrastructure, for example. So, I think that’s a first very positive step forward.”

Ms Laing said during her closed-door meeting with President Mugabe they discussed how the two countries could improve their bilateral relations.

But she failed to explain how trade relations could improve when the illegal sanctions her country imposed on Zimbabwe remained in existence.

Ms Laing claimed the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe were not trade and economic measures, but just “travel restrictions”.

“We want to build on the very good Zim-Asset economic blueprint that has just been developed,” she said. “We are encouraging our investors to come here. What the investors want to see is confidence that when they make investment here their assets will be secured, that the environment is predictable so that they know the returns that they are able to make.

“There are many companies wanting to come to Zimbabwe. Companies will come where economics makes sense. It is the job of diplomats to think about the political environment, but investors do want to come here provided their investment will be secure.”

Ms Laing said it was up to the European Union to review the sanctions regime in February next year based on the progress made by Zimbabwe.

Speaking to the media after presenting his credentials to President Mugabe, new European Union Ambassador, Mr Philippe van Damme said the bloc was interested in normalising relations with Zimbabwe.

“The EU and all its member states altogether have to further enhance our partnership in the interest of this country and that we have to give each other a chance by building measures of mutual trust so that we can help this country forward on a sustainable and equitable trade policies in the interests of its people,” he said.

Mr Van Damme said the EU was there to help Zimbabweans in different ways, among them creating a conducive environment for investment.

He claimed that the EU, Britain and the United States were the highest providers of development aid in Zimbabwe.

“We are engaged in this country,” he said. “Take that, believe us we are engaged. We want to go forward. But we need to create the conditions to go further and these conditions include building a conducive environment for investment, to create confidence also among the people, rule of law. Give us a chance to help Government achieve this.”

Sources who attended the meetings said President Mugabe categorically told Ms Laing and Mr Van Damme that they were supposed to unconditionally remove the illegal sanctions.

Mauritius’ new diplomat in Zimbabwe, Mr Mahomed Ismael Dossa said the two countries enjoyed trade relations, adding that there were a number of possible areas for further trade cooperation.

“We have three more agreements in the pipeline,” he said. “One of them is on the ICT (Information Communication Technology) sector, one on education and one on tourism. But as the ambassador of Mauritius we want to look at more avenues.”

Mr Dossa said one of the possible areas of interest was for Zimbabwe to tap on Mauritius’ comparative advantage in medical personnel and ICT.

Ambassador Gabriel Gai Riak said relations between Zimbabwe and South Sudan dated long back.

He said he looked forward to facilitating trade relations between the two countries during his tenure.

Swaziland’s new diplomat, Chief Senzangakona Dlamini said Zimbabwe and had a lot in common, adding that promoting trade relations between the two countries was high on his agenda.

He said possible areas of cooperation between Zimbabwe and Swaziland was in sharing skills in agriculture.

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  • Chogugudza

    Another example of Lloyd Gumbo singing for his supper, with futile attempts to distract the public from the root cause of Zimbabwe’s dire economic situation, namely the corrupt and incompetent Zanu-PF Government and irresponsible leadership.
    As far as Ambassador Van Damme’s statement that EU, Britain and the United States are the highest providers of development aid in Zimbabwe as well as confirmed major trading partners after S.A., the facts are irrefutable if reporter Lloyd Gumbo could be bothered to confirm statistics before his lackadaisical approach to praising unfinished secret and hypothetical paper deals with Russia and China.

  • Common Sense

    “The British government is feeling the heat from Zimbabwe’s successful Look East Policy” errrm, no I don’t think so, Britain will be quite OK even without any investment here… stop drinking on self-importance.

    “Sanctions” – Please stop, it’s getting beyond worn out…. Britain is not the ZIDERA creator, and before Zimbabwe starts crying about financial sanctions, how about not defaulting on your $12 billion + debt and make this country investment-worthy…. any financial sanctions have not been exercised yet so don’t lie to the public, they know better

  • magonde

    Well done Baba Mugabe. Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. Zimbabwe is behind you. Let the British feel the heat. Tighten the screws so that they feel their *** aching. They thought they were above everyone else. Now Zimbabwe has shown the ‘mighty’ British that they are mere cockroaches in a rubbish dumb of imperialism. The UK and the EU imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe resulted in the deaths of many Zimbabweans. We MUST never forget this for generations to come. If these murderers want to re-engage with Zimbabwe, they must unconditionally remove these illegal sanctions, announce to the world that they were wrong about Zimbabwe, tell the world that they murdered millions of Zimbabweans under the guise of ‘travel sanctions’ and that they are chromosomal evil because they go around the world invading countries and killing people for no apparent reason.

  • Truth Seeker

    They sanction they have put are in the case that No resident living in the West can assist Zimbabwe.

  • Not Fooled

    If it was the rule of law,poor investment policies etc without sanctions, what rule of law and investment policies that have changed?

  • mandla

    let me agree with you there. they are better colonizers. when time comes for you to shake off their yoke, they smartly close their industries, close their shops, tie you down on their NGOs and there after use their powerful news houses that you are to blame for ‘mismanaging their’ economy.

  • pianki

    He laughing at the Halloween Devil who has come out so early.