FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday pleaded with the European Union (EU) to unconditionally lift the economic and travel sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace to normalise relations between Harare and the European bloc.
Several government, Zanu PF officials and firms linked to them were placed under EU trade and travel sanctions in 2002 for gross human rights violations and electoral fraud, but the EU has lifted the embargo on most of them save for Mugabe and his wife.
“While we have taken these significant steps towards normalisation of Zimbabwe-EU relations, we must remain cognisant of the fact that there was still unfinished business,” Chinamasa said at the official signing ceremony of the 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Programme 2014 to 2020 in Harare.
“Zimbabwe has a chief executive and as long as the chief executive remains under sanctions our relations remain poisoned and unproductive.
“I, therefore, take this opportunity to call for the unconditional lifting of sanctions against our head of State and the First Lady.”
Chinamasa said the signing ceremony was a significant step towards normalisation of relations and this would be the first time since 2002 that EU was engaging the government directly with development assistance funds being channelled through Treasury and not through non-governmental organisations as was the case before.
“Following the signing, Zimbabwe and the EU must embark on a political dialogue as provided under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement,” he said.
“This will be spearheaded and conducted under the auspices of the Foreign Affairs ministry. But dialogue must be between equals.
“For as long as sanctions remain, the dialogue will unnecessarily remain contentious and acrimonious, and may retard progress towards normalisation.”
Chinamasa added that Zimbabwe was open to doing business with EU member States.
“We would really appreciate it if we could have the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“So I am happy that EIB will be having another mission to Zimbabwe.
“Our productive sector needs support to accelerate economic growth and achieve sustainable development.
“By the way, we started this January to make a token repayment towards liquidation of our indebtedness to the EIB to demonstrate our commitment to do business with the bank.”