Germany offers poll funds bait

HARARE - While Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has sought financial support from European countries for elections, the aid will only come if foreign observers are allowed in, visiting German federal minister of Cooperation Dirk Niebel said yesterday.

Niebel was addressing journalists at a press conference after meeting Deputy President Joice Mujuru, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and other cabinet ministers, including Finance minister Tendai Biti.

“We had discussions with Biti where he officially asked for financial assistance for the referendum and elections. We agreed to fund the processes but our aid will come with observers,” said Niebel.

“This is because we will need to monitor how the money is used. Zimbabwe is at a very critical stage of the democratic process and a return to the rule of law,” Niebel said.

“We have appealed for a peaceful and credible election and will continue to support pro-reform forces that have helped stabilise the people’s lives since the 2008 elections.”

Niebel said Zimbabwe will not get direct government support until the country achieves genuine democratic reforms.

“There is a need to guarantee human rights and a return to the rule of law, only until then can we have direct bilateral relations. We suspended government to government cooperation between Zimbabwe and Germany in 2002 and my coming here does not mean a normalisation of relations.

“Our money will not go direct to government until the return to rule of law but what happened is that in 2009 we resumed transitional aid to Zimbabwe that will help with water, health, education and other areas,” he said.

The German minister did not mince his words, saying Zimbabwe had reneged on bilateral agreements and this will hurt investor perceptions.

“Zimbabwe does not comply with international laws because the government, after agreeing to bilateral agreements, goes back on its word and we feel it is a breach of these agreements. No investor would want to bring their money where there is no security of that investment.

“Deputy president Mujuru did not give any assurances but Prime Minister Tsvangirai did tell me that last week cabinet took a position and set up a ministerial committee that will look into the issue in particular relating to conservation and we hope something positive will come out of that,” said Niebel.

Earlier, Tsvangirai had told reporters after meeting the German minister that they had discussed areas of future cooperation between Germany and Zimbabwe at government level.

“We discussed for future purposes, areas such as HIV/Aids, education, water and other technical cooperation,” Tsvangirai said.


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