Britain scaling up its re-engagement with Zim

Britain scaling up its re-engagement with Zim
Published: 26 January 2018
BRITAIN is working on scaling up its re-engagement with Zimbabwe with its new Africa Minister Mrs Harriett Baldwin expected to visit the country soon.

The outgoing Africa Minister Mr Rory Stewart was the first envoy to meet President Mnangagwa soon after his inauguration last year.

Responding to questions in the House of Lords on Tuesday, the Minister of State at the Department for International Development, Lord Bates said Zimbabwe has a lot of potential in terms of education and natural resources.

"When the opportunity came, after the former President Mugabe left office, one of the first there was Rory Stewart when he was a joint Foreign Office and DFID Minister. I know that the new Africa Minister, Harriett Baldwin, will be looking to make a visit early on. It is precisely the type of country that has been locked into instability for too long, and yet has immense potential in terms of education and its natural resources, which can be liberated," said Lord Bates.

His response came after the Earl of Sandwich Crossbench had asked if Britain's engagement with Zimbabwe.

"My Lords, is not Zimbabwe a good example of what the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, was suggesting? The new President of Zimbabwe is looking for friends.

Are we active enough in the Foreign Office at the moment in seeking ways of introducing longer-term development to balance humanitarian aid?" he asked.

Lord Bates assured the British Parliament that they would continue to support sub-Saharan Africa in sustainable services, especially in health, education, equality, social security and good governance.

After meeting President Mnangagwa last November, Mr Stewart said discussions were already underway to ensure that Zimbabwe starts getting international financial assistance.

"We will be working closely with the Government to understand their needs and what sort of support they require," he said. "We will be looking at what Government is doing on corruption, elections and other things."

Early this week, the European Council said it was open for dialogue with the new Government and other political players in the country.

"The EU reaffirms its availability to engage constructively with the new authorities including through a structured political dialogue, with political actors across the spectrum, and with civil society, on the basis of a mutual commitment to shared values focused on human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. It will do so in coordination with African and international partners," the commission said in a statement.

It said the Government can open the way towards a full return to the rule of law, within a constitutional framework and under civilian rule, allowing for the preparation and implementation of much-needed political and economic reforms.

The bloc said it would assist the country in its re-engagement efforts with international organisations. 
- the herald
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