West ready to enagage Zimbabwe
Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
GERMANY, France, the Netherlands and Norway yesterday expressed willingness to engage the new Government politically and economically following Zanu-PF’s resounding victory in the July 31 harmonised elections. This was said by incoming diplomats from the four European countries who presented their credentials to President Mugabe yesterday.
The ambassadors, who spoke hours after UN secretary-general Mr Ban Ki-moon congratulated President Mugabe on his re-election, said they had specific instructions from their capitals to start a new relationship with Harare.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the European bloc hit rock bottom after Britain internationalised its bilateral tiff with Zimbabwe.
A source who attended a meeting between President Mugabe and incoming French ambassador, Mr Laurent Delahouse, said President Mugabe brought to the fore the illegal economic sanctions as they relate to Zimbabwe’s economic interaction with the rest of the world and the country’s capacity to export its minerals and flowers.
The source said the President told the French chief diplomat to Zimbabwe that he was not interested in romantic trips to Western capitals.
The President said: “We don’t want to visit Paris. I don’t want your girls. I do not want to visit Paris for romantic purposes. I want to develop relations between us.”
The source said President Mugabe notified Mr Delahouse that some well-meaning ambassadors from Europe to Zimbabwe got contaminated by old ambassadors who had been here for much longer.
The President said France should do a national introspection on whether or not it was right to continue with the policy of sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The source said President Mugabe said there was a group of European countries that called itself Friends of Zimbabwe which did exactly the opposite of what was expected of a true friend.
In turn, Mr Belahouse is said to have replied: “More and more of us in the EU are beginning to share Zimbabwe’s analysis and we now need a new strategy for engaging Zimbabwe outside sanctions and that is why we are reviewing the process.”
He mentioned that the EU operated on the principle of compromise and that tended to inhibit scope for individual countries’ actions.
The source said Mr Belahouse confided in President Mugabe that the policy of sanctions against Zimbabwe was undergoing a review which seemed to be taking a positive direction as exemplified by the removal of ZMDC from the sanctions list.
The French ambassador is said to have told the President that France had only one farm that was affected during the land reform programme which was under BIPPA and that there were measures to correct that situation.
He told President Mugabe that he interacted with families that were affected by the acquisition and they indicated that they had no problems with the policy on indigenisation.
“What they want is that it (indigenisation) be implemented in a transparent and predictable way.
“They understand that the policy of indigenisation was the only way of underpinning economic stability in Zimbabwe.”
The source said Mr Belahouse said he hoped to engage Zimbabwe politically and in business terms and as a friend.
President Mugabe, the source said, told Mr Belahouse that international law made all states equal and bid them to recognise set parameters for engagement like non-interference in domestic affairs of sovereign states.
The source said President Mugabe said he was alarmed by the behaviour of the EU in its readiness to intervene outside international law in the domestic affairs of certain African countries.
“The EU countries, both collectively and individually, say we are superiors, say we set the pace and demand performance from all of us Africans,” said President Mugabe.
“Expect obedience from Africans and impose punishment on Africans. Is that right Mr Ambassador?
“We are a continent of over 52 countries and we believe in ourselves and our cultures and there is Europe which once colonised us and imposed itself on us only yesterday and still wants to punish us for wrongs they themselves define and then judge. We are headed for real conflict with Europe in the future. That is how some of us see it.
“They will not even allow us to think freely the way I am now, aah haiwaiwaiwa.”
In another meeting held with the new Germany ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Ulrich Wilhelm Klockner, the source said President Mugabe said Zimbabwe wanted the illegal sanctions to be removed.
The President said: “They (sanctions) do not serve any purpose except to continue to get to relate with hostilities.”
Commenting on the recent harmonised elections, the President said: “If basic principles are varied in accordance with the likes and dislikes of observers, then we would rather do without their judgement.
“Peace and friendship pleases, that is what we need. That is what we are asking for. Are we getting it from you?” asked the President.
Mr Klockner responded: “I hope so Sir. I am here and I have been instructed to start a new dialogue with the new Government.
“My Government wants me to engage the new Government in a constructive and helpful way.”
In his meeting with the new Dutch ambassador Ms Gera Sneller the President said: “We are not able to freely interact in the economic sphere.”
The source said President Mugabe thanked Holland for its humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe which was still forthcoming despite of the illegal sanctions, and for its running a scholarship that had trained about 1 200 Zimbabweans.
Speaking to journalists after meeting President Mugabe, the four ambassadors spoke glowingly about their commitment to work with Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe also received letters of credence from Sudanese incoming ambassador Mr Hamdan Wadi Daldoom who said it was important to enhance economic ties between Harare and Khartoum.
The new Namibian ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Balbina Daes Pienaar said she would work hard to solidify both political and economic ties between Harare and Windhoek during her tour of duty.
Earlier, President Mugabe swore in Cde Paddy Zhanda as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture responsible for Livestock.