Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
The European Union (EU) yesterday acknowledged that there are some positive steps towards the attainment of political and economic reforms by Zimbabwe.
Speaking after meeting President Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare where a number of political and economic issues were discussed, EU head of delegation Ambassador Timo Olkkonen said the recent announcement of the Staff Monitored Programme (SMP), alignment of the Constitution and commitment to replace the Public Order and Security Act were some of the positive steps so far.
“Now, we have recently seen positive steps. The Staff Monitored Programme by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is certainly one of those. We have seen movement on the constitutional alignment agenda, the Media Bills, the replacement of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA),” said Ambassador Olkkonen.
The SMP announced at the beginning of the month is aimed at implementing a set of policies that can facilitate a return to macro-economic stability.
These policies, which are anchored on the country’s Transitional Stabilization Programme (TSP), emphasise on fiscal consolidation, elimination of central bank financing of the fiscal deficit, and adoption of reforms that allow market forces to drive the effective functioning of foreign exchange and other financial markets.
On democratic and political reforms, Cabinet has since approved formulation of the Maintenance of Peace and Order Bill to replace the Public Order and Security Act and is working on other Bills to replace the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Ambassador Olkkonen said although there has been a lot of questions about these media laws, it was important to note that discussions around them have already started and are going forward.
“I know there is criticism and questions about the details of those Acts but I think it is important that there is a discussion starting and going on now about those things and making sure that the legislative agenda moves forward and that is by the way an area the EU is supporting, financially through technical assistance. Recently we have seen positive steps,” said Ambassador Olkkonen.
He however, said there has been a lot of expectations from Brussels and other European capitals concerning political and economic reforms in the country since the announcement of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and electoral reforms.
“We had a good, a candid discussion on a wide range of topics about the political and economic reform agenda that the Government is implementing in Zimbabwe. We are very much supportive of the processes and even financially supporting parts of that agenda such as the Constitutional alignment agenda that we are supporting,” he said.
He said they also discussed the post-election disturbances that affected mostly the central business district in Harare and measures Government was putting in place to mitigate similar events from occurring again as well as implementation of recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission.
Through the TSP, which seeks to transform Zimbabwe into a middle income economy by 2030 and running under the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra, the country has also relooked into judicial laws relating to settling of disputes. As a result, small claims courts have been established across the country to deal with civil disputes and commercial crimes.
Government is also working on establishment of a One Stop Investment Service Centre (OSISC), which seeks to do away with bureaucratic processes investors sometimes come across.
As part of the economic reforms, Government is also emphasising on strengthening good corporate governance practices in state-owned enterprises, restructuring and privatisation among other measures.
The Second Republic has also embarked on an engagement and re-engagement programme with the international community as part of its political reforms.