'EU to resume direct cooperation with Zim'

HARARE - For Zimbabwe to regain the confidence of its international partners and the rest of the global business community, it must correct the negative perception  and alleviate the so-called “country risk” currently stifling its economy, a French diplomat has said.

Laurent Delahousse, the French ambassador to Zimbabwe, told delegates on Monday on the occasion of Bastille Day in Harare, that there was need for building confidence in the Zimbabwean Constitution and the rule of law and also confidence that citizens not only have rights, but that they also have duties and must contribute to the nation and the needs of the less fortunate.

He said those with responsibilities in government, business or in civil society have a shared responsibility to be the drivers of the Zimbabwean hope and confidence.

“But foremost, among necessary drivers for Zimbabwe, is the confidence of all Zimbabweans themselves in their country, their economy, their common destiny, the confidence that is necessary for local companies and farmers to invest, banks to lend them money and Zimbabweans with financial means to provide liquidities, hence invest in their country," he said.

The French ambassador called on inventive entrepreneurs in the informal sector to bring their contribution to the formal economy and the financing of the nation's needs through the national budget.

He said the Zimbabwean hope was reignited five years ago by the government of national unity.

“Hope that was confirmed by the peaceful running of last year's general elections, despite the questions they raised, this hope that was renewed by the message of engagement presented by the new government of Zimbabwe rests on solid foundations,” he said.

Delahousse said the many assets of the country are well known.

“A literate, skilful and hard-working people, abundant natural and mineral resources, scandalously good climate, a widespread though deteriorated infrastructure network, such a peaceful and welcoming nation, such a resilient people with such foundations, how can one but envisage a bright future for Zimbabwe,” he said.

He said the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) addressed the many challenges facing the country.

“Among those challenges, one is to establish a business-friendly climate enabling companies to thrive,” he said.

“Another is to restore good relations with the international financial community, thus enabling the resumption of direct international financing to government institutions.

“Let me express my hope that (Finance) minister (Patrick) Chinamasa and his colleagues in government will succeed in re-engaging with the donor community and the private sector.

“On its side, the European Union has decided to answer this call for engagement. On November 1, this year, provided everything goes well, the EU will resume its direct co-operation with the government of Zimbabwe, and the European Development Fund will start assisting in the implementation of ZimAsset.”

Delahousse also took time to congratulate Germany for its victory in the just ended World Cup.

“Losing to Germany, as France did last week, is not necessarily a pleasure, but it is always an honour,” he said.

“As the saying goes, football is about 22 guys running after a ball and, at the end, Germany wins.”

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