Friends of Zim: engagement based on partnership

HARARE - This year is already a historic year for Zimbabwe.

The adoption of a constitution written by representatives of the people, for the people and approved by the people, is a seminal moment in the history of any country.

The tremendous turn-out for the constitutional referendum on March 16 exceeded expectations and demonstrated how much Zimbabweans care about their country and about taking a stake in its future.

I hope this will be reflected when Zimbabwe goes for the elections later this year, and that the result will be a democratically-elected government with a genuine mandate to govern for the best interests of all Zimbabweans.

The international donor community remains strongly committed to supporting the Zimbabwean people to reach their goals of democracy, peace and prosperity.

Since the formation of the inclusive government our collective development support has amounted to the tune of 2,6 billion.

As the needs of Zimbabwe have changed during this period, the international donor community’s support has moved from humanitarian aid towards longer- term development assistance.

Over the past few years, the largest donors to Zimbabwe have come together at an informal meeting to share our views on developments and to coordinate our support under the name of “Friends of Zimbabwe”.  

It has been hosted by Germany, Norway, Denmark, the EU, Japan and the African Development Bank.

This year, it was hosted by the UK, in London on March 26.

The timing of this year’s meeting is clearly important. It comes 10 days after Zimbabwe’s constitutional referendum and in an election year.

It is an opportunity for the international donor community to gain a shared understanding of the way events are likely to unfold in Zimbabwe over the next year, and to agree how we can best support development and the democratic process. It is also a chance to consider together the best ways for us to continue working closely with any government that emerges from free and fair elections, to help accelerate its path towards prosperity.

For this reason, and for the first time at a friends of Zimbabwe meeting, members of all three parties of the Government of National Unity were invited and all three parties attended.

Also, representatives from the Sadc region were invited to underline the lead role that Sadc plays as guarantor of the Global Political Agreement and our wish to support them.

The three representatives of the political parties who attended were Elton Mangoma, Patrick Chinamasa and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

It may come as a surprise to many that a Zanu PF minister attended this event, especially as his invitation came from the British government, but it is a welcome sign.

This demonstrates a real willingness to have fruitful exchanges with Zimbabweans from across the political spectrum on issues that affects them all.

These parties, amongst other things, share the responsibility of delivering free and fair elections, which is why it is crucial that the international donor community engages with them collectively.

Following discussions in London, the international donor community has re-confirmed all our governments’ continued strong commitment to the Zimbabwean people and support for a prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe.

Nobody can say what Zimbabwe will be like a decade from now, but I am optimistic that it will be a prosperous and democratic country, and a role model for the region. - Deborah Bronnert

*Bronnert is the British ambassador to Zimbabwe

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