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Zimbabwe wants France to help end dispute with Britain

By Janet Shoko
Posted on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 10:04

Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe soured in 1997 when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government pulled out of talks to fund Mugabe’s controversial land reforms.

Now that France has decided to assist Zimbabwe again, we will be glad if you may talk to your friend

The Europe Union responded by imposing crippling sanctions, which they have been gradually easing since Mugabe formed a coalition government that expired last year.

Mugabe accused the British of meddling in the country’s affairs by funding his political opponents.

But deputy Foreign Affairs mini Christopher Mutsvangwa told French ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse that it was time to build bridges.

Last week, Delahousse said direct government to government co-operation between France and Zimbabwe will resume before the end of the year after it was suspended in 2002 as part of the targeted sanctions against Harare.

“Now that France has decided to assist Zimbabwe again, we will be glad if you may talk to your friend (Britain), whom we are emotionally attached to, to re-engage with us,” Mutsvangwa said.

“We want the British and their companies to come and resume business here.

“They must have long-term perspectives on Zimbabwe and not base their goals on emotions.”

Mutsvangwa is of the opinion Britain has more to lose if it perpetuates a stand-off with the southern African country.

“The world has now become flat and one can get money from anywhere in the world.

“The British may lose more if they remain playing an adversarial role to Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We have many resources here and many European countries and other emerging nations would be glad to help us.”

Zimbabwe has been failing for years to access funds from the EU and the West owing to the strained relations.

The situation is further worsened by the country’s serviced debt nearing $10 billion to multilateral finance institutions like the International Monetary Fund .

However, in recent months, Western donors have been pleading copious amounts of funds in support of the government, reminiscent of post-war rebuilding efforts.

On Wednesday last week, Zimbabwe received a financial bail-out worth $53 million, and of this amount $35 million is funded by Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.

Britain recently gave $10 million to enable the country’s poor children to access basic education.

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