Denmark concerned at state of democracy

Denmark is following closely the implementation of the new constitution and is concerned at the state of democracy in Zimbabwe.

Erik Brogger Rasmussen: We hope someone will successfully challenge the unconstitutional Electoral Amendment Bill.
Erik Brogger Rasmussen: We hope someone will successfully challenge the unconstitutional Electoral Amendment Bill.

Erik Brogger Rasmussen, Charge d’Affaires at the Royal Danish Embassy, told The Zimbabwean his country was particularly worried following the recent passing of the ‘unconstitutional Electoral Amendment Bill’ in Parliament.

He said there was need for Harare to make sincere efforts to align its laws in line with the constitution, reform the electoral laws and address outstanding reforms to do with the media and basic freedoms.

“The adoption of the constitution was a milestone achievement by Zimbabwe and what is left is its full implementation. We are disturbed by the recent passing of the Electoral Amendment Bill which we regard as unconstitutional,” Rasmussen said. He expressed hope that someone would successfully challenge its constitutionality.

Rasmussen said outstanding reforms guaranteeing free and fair elections should be addressed before Denmark considers improving relations with Zimbabwe.

The irregularities that characterised the July 2013 elections remained cause for concern and there was need for corrective measures to avoid a repeat at the 2018 polls.

“If Zimbabwe is serious about democratic processes, there is ample time to fulfil the constitution and make required reforms well ahead of the next elections,” he said.

If Harare adopts democratic practices, Rasmussen expressed hope that the two states would fully embrace each other. Earlier, he told Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa that Denmark withdrew its support from Zimbabwe because it was disappointed at the way in which the land reform programme had been conducted.

“I will not hide the fact that Demark was not happy with what happened during the land reform,” he said, adding that though the two countries were on the dance floor, they were not kissing each other cheek to cheek yet and the road towards the mending of relations could be bumpy.

Signing the Denmark $20 million contribution towards the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund, Rasmussen said the gesture signalled the return of Denmark to help rehabilitate water, sanitation and power infrastructure.

Chinamasa told him that Zimbabwe was more interested in mending relations between the two countries than the $20 million donation.

“President Robert Mugabe recently wondered what had gone wrong between the two countries, since Denmark was among the few European countries which supported Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence morally, diplomatically and materially,” Chinamasa said, giving a smile which was not reciprocated by Rasmussen.

Denmark, the single largest contributor, had earlier given $13,1 million to the fund, which is managed by the African Development Bank.

To ensure donations were accounted for and managed properly, Chinamasa said: “Government recently formed a cabinet aid coordinating committee headed by myself.”

Mateus Magala, ADB Group Resident Representative, said upon implementation of the project in 2016, load shedding would be reduced and water supplies increased. Over 2.5 million people in major towns would benefit from safe water and improved power supplies.

The emergency fund was launched in 2010 by western nations including Germany, Denmark, Australia, Switzerland, and the UK with an initial $40 million injection. Some $145 million of the $165 million target has been raised.

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