European Union (EU) Head of Delegations to Zimbabwe Ambassador Timo Olkkonen described the August last year shootings and the January protests as setbacks to the block’s shaking relations after a political dialogue with the African country’s government officials.
The European ambassador, however, said it is important for the Western block to continue discussions with Zimbabwe and also revealed that such issues were also part of the discussion.
“Clearly there are also incidences like the recent arrests that have been happening on NGO and trade union activists which were also issues which we have discussed in a very frank and open and constructive atmosphere in this meeting,” Olkkonen said.
Besides human rights and democracy issues, the political dialogue also touched on economic development, trade and investment and climate change.
Asked if the Zimbabwean government showed any will to resolve issues to do with the rule of law, the European ambassador said there was some positive change.
“We think the government is serious with this reform agenda and we see positive steps taken in terms of the constitution alignment and new legal proposals are coming up and that testifies about the seriousness of the government moving forward,” Olkkonen said.
“Also the fact that there is the staff monitoring program by the IMF and steps to reform the economy.”
The political dialogue takes place as Zimbabwe’s economy continues to face challenges with price increases which hurt the ordinary people.
Responding to the journalists on the political dialogue with the EU, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou said that the issues of sanctions and the ongoing arrests of NGO members were also discussed.
Manzou said that the issues of the arrests of NGO members are before the courts to be tried and therefore should be left out to be tried and not to be commented on.