Tuesday, December 04, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) German minister in Mujuru talks

German minister in Mujuru talks
03/12/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

GERMANY’S Development Minister has met Vice President Joice Mujuru during a visit to Zimbabwe in an apparent climb-down after earlier signalling that he would skirt a meeting with President Robert Mugabe and his senior aides.

Dirk Niebel, who arrived in Zimbabwe last Saturday, said he planned to use his four-day visit to encourage what he described as "democratic forces" in the country, adding: “I consciously did not schedule a meeting with Mugabe, because such a meeting could be exploited.”

But on Monday, Niebel met Mugabe’s number two during which he said the European country was “committed to restoring relations with Zimbabwe” which have been frosty for over a decade.
Niebel is the first member of the German cabinet to visit Zimbabwe since then-Defence Minister Volker Rühe did so in 1997.

The European Union, Germany included, imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 in the wake of violent land seizures from white farmers and elections which were criticised as flawed.

The sanctions have led to Mugabe’s isolation, but critics of the measures say they also took away Europe’s ability to influence events in Zimbabwe.

With key elections set to be held in 2013, Niebel’s meeting with Mujuru appeared in part aimed at establishing a line of communication to Mugabe and secure a role for Germany in the elections.

Niebel told the ZBC after the meeting at Mujuru’s Munhumutapa office he had submitted “proposals... as we want to be part of the international observers”.

“We briefed her, and she said consultations will be underway. We would want the elections in Zimbabwe to be conducted in a peaceful manner,” said Niebel.

President Mugabe has previously insisted that Zimbabwean elections can only be monitored by African countries. Despite demands by rivals, his Zanu PF party is unlikely to shift from this position.

Niebel is expected to meet with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and right groups before the end of his visit.

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