Denmark gives Zim $20m

HARARE - ZIMBABWE says it is ready to normalise relations with Denmark and the European Union (EU) as part of wider efforts to grow the economy.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told journalists yesterday at a signing ceremony of the Danish commitment letter of $20 million earmarked for infrastructure development in the country, that Zimbabwe was happy to revive its friendship with Denmark.

“What is significant is not the $20 million we are getting from Denmark, but the fact that Denmark and Zimbabwe are finding each other,” Chinamasa said.

“Our desire is to restore the economic and political relations to the levels they were before the land reform programme.”
Chinamasa signed the grant on behalf of the Zimbabwe government.

“These projects are a prerequisite to economic growth and without power and water we cannot talk of economic growth,” he said.

Relations between Zimbabwe and the EU soured at the turn of the millennium when the trade bloc imposed targeted measures on 192 individuals and 87 corporations after expressing grave concerns over human rights abuses in Zimbabwe in 2002.

For years, the EU had stopped channelling development aid through the Zimbabwean government and worked instead with charities, but it will now talk to the government about how it would spend aid money.

The EU has also started relaxing sanctions imposed against the Zimbabwe administration.

However, last week head of the EU delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia said the bloc was committed to normalisation of relations.

“The EU remains committed to re-engaging with Zimbabwe and we have the evidence of the re-engagement in action,” he said.

“(The) consultations with civil society organisations and Members of Parliament represent a key step in the process of finalising the national indicative programme that will help to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.”

Erik Rasmussen, the head of mission at the Royal Danish Embassy in Harare, said his country was ready to assist Zimbabwe in a number of ways. Denmark closed its embassy in Zimbabwe in 2002 and re-established its diplomatic presence in 2009.

“We were very unhappy with what happened during the land reform programme and we didn’t hide that," Rasmussen said.

“That is one of the reasons why the Danish embassy left Zimbabwe in 2002.”

Rasmussen said he hopes the relations between the two nations “will reach a point where the relationship is fully normalised.”

This comes as the southern African country’s economy, which showed signs of growth during the inclusive government era, is slowly drifting into recession and is in desperate need of fresh capital injection.

However, due to the country’s high political risk, no country or investor is willing to grant Zimbabwe loans at concessionary rates.

Zimbabwe, shunned by Western governments and funding institutions, needs $27 billion — more than twice the size of its economy — to fund a five-year plan to improve basic services and rebuild the impoverished country.

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