Monday, February 10, 2014

(HERALD ZW) France breaks ranks

November 21, 2013
Felex Share Herald Reporter

French companies are eager to invest in Zimbabwe in light of the political stability ushered in by Zanu-PF’s decisive victory in the July 31 harmonised elections, French ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Laurent Delahousse said yesterday.

President Mugabe romped to victory with 61,09 percent of the vote to MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s 33,94 percent while Zanu-PF clinched 197 seats in the 270 member national Assembly to MDC-T’s 49. In the Senate Zanu-PF controls proceedings with 37 seats to MDC-T’s 21 and MDC’s two.

Mr Delahousse, who was speaking after meeting Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Cde Supa Mandiwanzira in Harare yesterday, said the elections were a closed chapter and it was time to focus on the future.

While Britain and its dominions – Australia and Canada – have refused to recognise the harmonised elections, several European countries have made positive overtures in recent months with the EU lifting sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and its joint venture companies.

The sanctions on ZMDC were scrapped after Belgium, the seat of the EU, lobbied for their removal saying they hindered trade and the selling of Zimbabwe’s gems on the world market.

Sources in the diplomatic community say EU member states were now divesting themselves of the strictures of group solidarity to individually engage Zimbabwe.

“France has commended the elections, we said what we had to say and we are not saying it again,” said Mr Delahousse. “We want to look ahead in the future and we have taken good note of the reports by the African Union and Sadc on the elections and they have pointed out some recommendations for the Government to follow to prepare for the next elections in the future.”

Mr Delahousse said France wanted to improve economic relations with Zimbabwe and the two countries were already working towards that end so that foreign direct investment could improve the economy.

“A lot of French companies want to come to Zimbabwe and others who were here also want to come back,” he said. “They are satisfied with the stability in the country though there are still some uncertainties regarding the macro-economic situation.

“The Government is addressing those issues and I hope it will take all the appropriate decisions for investments to come back from abroad. They desperately need foreign companies and investors to help them and we are working towards that end with my colleagues in the diplomatic corps in Zimbabwe.”

Mr Delahousse said they discussed with Prof Moyo areas of divergence, including the illegal economic sanctions. He said the embargo would be reviewed “constantly”.

“There are some areas Europe, France and Zimbabwe are at odds,” he said. “Those are for instance the issue of measures that Europe has adopted against Zimbabwe which you call illegal sanctions.

“We are reviewing those measures constantly and I hope that the new dispensation in Zimbabwe will help us to take a right decision when the right time comes and to engage in a more positive cooperation.”

Mr Delahousse said each of the two countries had a role to play for the cooperation to fully materialise.
“To do this, everyone must do one’s homework,” he said. “It calls for decisions to be taken in Zimbabwe, decision to be taken in Europe, but I am happy to see that everyone is working towards that positive framework to improve our economic relations.”

Mr Delahousse said they had also discussed media cooperation.
“There will be a major change in your television in the future as there will be the switch to digital television,” he said.
“France has experience working with African countries. We have switched to digital and we have presented the minister with documents that have been drafted by French and African specialists with a view to addressing those specific questions for Africa that are presented by digitalisation.

“This is one area of cooperation. Another area of possible cooperation will be technical cooperation with the media, that is ZBC radio and television. Some of the equipment is older, we need to see how we can modernise this equipment and also help training your technical people to improve the quality of the media in this country.”

Asked why France did not want to channel its development aid through Treasury, Mr Delahousse said it was a result of the “shortcomings” that Government had.

“There is no contradiction between the NGOs and Government to work in partnership,” he said. “It is very important for the Government of Zimbabwe to be accountable for the policies that it has to pursue in accordance with the Constitution and with the will of the electorate.”

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