West disappointed at Mugabe’s lack of cooperation

Western diplomats are disappointed with the government’s reluctance to reciprocate their efforts to engage Harare.

Mathew Neuhaus: Zimbabwe remains a risky investment zone.
Mathew Neuhaus: Zimbabwe remains a risky investment zone.

Australia Ambassador Mathew Neuhaus said the state was complicating matters by its confusing indigenisation policy and continued violation of human rights.

Speaking at a recent international dialogue “Zimbabwe Going Forward” in Harare, Neuhaus warned that if the Zanu (PF) government did not engage donors positively, its economic blue print, Zimasset, would remain a pie in the sky.

“Australia and other countries have taken considerable measures to engage Harare, but the government continues to use its controlled media to denigrate us. You do not make friends by insulting other states,” said Neuhaus, adding that as a result of the risky investment environment, Australian and other investors were heading to neighbouring Zambia.

The diplomat likened risks associated with investing in Harare to swimming ‘in a crocodile infested Kariba Dam’. But the west continues to provide massive sums for humanitarian aid – estimated at more than half a billion US Dollars annually.

Restrictions

Australia indicated that it imposed the targeted measure on Mugabe and his inner circle because of their “disgusting violation of human rights which included beatings and murders”. Zimbabwe was classified as a country which had not experienced democracy.

“During Mugabe’s term of office, Australia has had seven prime ministers and four different governments. Several ministers have resigned in shame following some issues, but no Zimbabwean legislator has stepped down as a result of corruption,” said Neuhaus.

EU Ambassador Aldo DELL’ARICCIA told the dialogue: “We are not opposed to the land reform but you do not kill in order to take over land. The EU Investment Bank did not stop lending Zimbabwe money because of the targeted measure but because Harare had not paid back previous loans.” He dismissed claims by government that “sanctions” had resulted in drying up of foreign loans and stalled government operations.

He said irregularities around the July 2013 elections (according to observers’ reports) and the recent police ban of a media practitioners’ march on World Press Freedom Day were cause for concern.

Ongoing violations of Bilateral Investment Agreements at the Save Conservatives and the recent first family land grab against indigenous Zimbabweans in Mazoe have convinced the West that Harare is not serious about democracy and respect for the rule of law.

Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader and former Zimbabwe Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, acknowledged that there was need for Zimbabwe to re-engage with the global world for the economy to recover.

“Zimbabwe is endowed with wealth and I am embarrassed to see the country being a basket case due to bad governance,” Makoni said.

Zanu (PF) Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chris Mutsvangwa, defended government’s position saying the West was not the right candidate to lecture on good governance and human rights.

“We see economic prospects in the East where investors do not set yardsticks before committing themselves to us like Western countries do,” said Mutsvangwa. He demanded acknowledgement first that Zanu (PF) was a legitimate government and an important player in world politics before any engagement could be initiated.

MDC’s Tendai Biti urged government to re-engage with the global family as the country was in an unprecedented crisis. “Mugabe at 90 should be concerned with other issues not to do with government and his party should admit failure, apologise to Zimbabweans and call for an all stakeholder dialogue,” Biti said.

He called for a repeal of the Indigenisation Act – not mere modification.

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