Relations between Zimbabwe and the 28-member European Union (EU) bloc will soon be upgraded from informal to formal engagements as parties actively seek to “enhance” their diplomatic rapport.
The new administration is heightening engagement and re-engagement efforts in order to normalise relations with the global family of nations.
It is believed that elevating relations will result in reciprocal visits at ministerial level between Harare and Brussels.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo told The Sunday Mail that the recent visit by EU managing director Mr Keon Vervaeke was instructive.
“The issue is that the EU has been having dialogue at the level of permanent secretaries. They requested that it be raised to the ministerial (level) so that it can enhance and quicken our re-engagement.”
During his visit to Harare, Mr Vervaeke met Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Foreign Affairs and International Trade permanent secretary Ambassador James Manzou.
Minister Moyo said the meetings were both “frank and progressive”.
“The visit was a good step forward. That is why all these special envoys who are coming from organisations such as EU are coming to engage Zimbabwe. It’s a process and we believe we are going in the right direction.”
Speaking before leaving the country a fortnight ago, Mr Vervaeke said the discussions with Government had provided scope for “a strengthened relationship with the EU”.
“Based on extensive discussions with my interlocutors, we hope that the commitment to take the reform process in Zimbabwe forward and to address the violent events of the recent past will translate into tangible action. Implementing political and economic reforms is crucial for the country to enter into a positive trajectory, and a broad national consensus would cement internal support. Progress on the reforms will also offer space for a strengthened partnership with the EU.”
However, according to Minister Moyo, Harare still maintains that the two-decade-old sanctions should be removed.
He said the re-engagement effort necessarily involves “ending Zimbabwe’s estrangement from the Western world”, “reopening lines of communication at the political level” and advocating for the removal of sanctions.
Diplomatic minutes seen by this paper indicate that the country is progressively making inroads in its renewed thrust to mend ties with other countries, including opening up new frontiers.
The new political administration’s ongoing political and economic reforms are also providing tailwinds to Government’s efforts.
Government is seized with a number of administrative reforms meant to improve the governance architecture as well as create a conducive environment for economic growth.
Some of the new policies will feed off from recommendations by the EU Election Observer Mission, Commonwealth Election Observer Group and the Kgalema Motlanthe-chaired commission of inquiry into the August 1 2018 post-election violence.
EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Timo Olkkonen did not respond to questions by the time of going to publication.