France revives Zim ties

HARARE - The European Union (EU) is answering the message of re-engagement being sent out by the new Zimbabwean government, and hopes all restrictive measures will be lifted soon, a top diplomat has revealed.

Laurent Delahouse, the French ambassador to Zimbabwe told the Daily News at his Harare offices that the last three to four months have been easy for his country and the EU in its engagement with Harare.

“In recent months there has been a willing sense by the Zimbabwean government towards engagement and this is positive,” he said.

“I have found it easy to interact at all levels of government and we have to exploit this new positive development.”

The French ambassador said while Zimbabwe experienced difficult times in recent years, coming out of the challenges with a positive attitude would chart a new beginning for the whole nation.

“Everyone must work to make the economic and social recovery process a success,” Delahousse said.

“Zimbabwe is a small landlocked country that takes pride in its bright past and I see bright economic prospects in the near future.

“My hope is that the country regains its economic muscle in Africa, hence it is time to look ahead and forget about the dark past.

“Everyone has to work for the future, lest we get stuck in the past. We know everyone has been a victim of the recent past, but that alone should not hold us back.”

He said while local industry was in a severe state, it was fortunate that the informal sector had taken over from the formal sector.

“As France, in partnership with the EU bloc, we support the country’s evolution and we are ready to forge an international strategy for Zimbabwe,” he said. “It is time that as EU we look into the future and support the rebuilding of the country.”

France wants a long-term relationship with Zimbabwe.

“The French have never forsaken Zimbabwe and even during the patchy times when other foreign entities were shutting down operations, our institutions remained intact,” he said.

“The Alliance Francaise has always been here and we also have two scientific research institutes that look at the interactions between conservation parks and local communities.

“The two research institutes have been operational in Zimbabwe since 1983 and they have kept intact their programmes with government’s National Parks and Wildlife.”

Delahousse said French companies were not in Zimbabwe for a quick buck or quick deals, but to invest in long-term projects.

“French companies invest in countries that have clear policies and where everyone else agrees,” he said.

He said his country was a big donor in the fields of health and that every year, they spend $42 million on Zimbabwe. A quarter of the funds go towards the global fund that caters for diseases like HIV/Aids and TB.

“A major area we have invested in is that of environment and research. We also offer training services in good governance to civic organisations,” he said.

Delahousse, 53, who has been in Zimbabwe for a year now, said he met government officials quite often, to discuss issues pertaining to their programmes.

On Monday, France will be commemorating the start of the French Revolution which commenced on July 14, 1789.

Delahousse said in Zimbabwe, the French celebrations will offer him the opportunity to meet, engage and associate with officials from government, parliament and all Zimbabweans.

“This is a symbolic day for France as it is the first day of the French revolution, a day set aside to promote our country’s declaration of human rights,” he said.

“It is a day to celebrate our values, struggles, what remains to be done to promote other ideals — liberty and equalities.

“It is a day when the French unite, celebrate, drink and dance.”

He added: “On this day, I will give Zimbabweans a special message.

“The message is that Zimbabweans must have confidence in themselves, they have the resilience, capacities and I assure them that things are going to turn out well.”

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