EU explains Grace’s visa ban

The European Union delegation to Zimbabwe says the just ended EU-Africa summit was a “working summit” and spouses of attendees were not invited.

EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’ Ariccia
EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’ Ariccia

Mugabe boycotted the EU-Africa summit in protest over the denial of a visa to his wife and made failed attempts to rally other African states to his cause.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean, EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’ Ariccia, said there was no political specific purpose related to the Summit in the denial of the visa. No other spouses of African heads of states were invited.

The EU imposed targeted measures against President Robert Mugabe and his inner cabal, including his wife, in 2002 at the height of human rights violations in the country.

However in February, the continental bloc suspended the targeted measures on the remaining eight of Mugabe’s lieutenants. The ban remained in place for the Zanu (PF) leader and his spouse.

He said that it was unfortunate that the Zimbabwean government had got the issue out of proportion.

“Because the EU-Africa summit was a working summit where the spouses were not invited, there was no official invitation to the first lady. When the Zimbabwean government requested a visa for her, that had to go through a normal process. But if there had been an official invitation, the visa would have been granted.

“President Mugabe then said that, not only would he not attend the meeting, but the whole Zimbabwean delegation would not be present. The fact of the matter is that none of the spouses were invited. It was only heads of states and governments,” said Dell’ Ariccia.

The EU-Africa summit, Investing in people, prosperity and peace, was attended by 61 heads of states and government – 40 from Africa and 21 from Europe.

Dell’ Ariccia said that the EU-Africa summit was a big opportunity for political dialogue between African and European states and Mugabe’s decision not to attend represented a “missed opportunity for Zimbabwe”.

“It was a very positive and constructive meeting that we certainly consider as a turning point on EU-Africa relations. The discussions further shifted from the focus on aid to the focus on economic cooperation, investment and trade and that indeed demonstrates that there is progress that has been achieved,” said Dell’ Ariccia.

Dell’ Ariccia described Zimbabwe’s economic situation as “serious”.

“The government is making great efforts to put its house in order, but the challenges are huge because, on one side, there are electoral promises that have to be fulfilled, but the situation is not conducive for respecting these promises,” said Dell’ Ariccia.

Post published in: Business
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