HARARE - The European Union (EU) has resumed direct financial aid to Zimbabwe, with the bloc availing $60 million, the EU ambassador Phillipe van Damme said.
Zimbabwe last received direct aid from the EU about 13 years ago.
Van Damme, in an interview with an America-based news agency last week, said “direct aid will resume early February, we just have to convene next week or the week after to sign up with relevant offices”.
“We are engaging government because we believe political dialogue will change the current situation,” he said.
The EU is expected to sign a $266 million national indicative programme with Harare to fund numerous projects that include health and the constitutional alignment.
He also said the 28-member union had availed $60 million support for the Health Transition Fund, which was going to be disbursed immediately, while other programmes were expected to start in the following months.
“We have three main sectors of concentration, which is political and economic governance; mainly finance management with the economic side and constitutional alignment. We also concentrate on agriculture and health,” the envoy said.
Last year, the EU lifted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe 13 years ago on allegations of human rights abuses.
The move paved way for the union to resume aid to hard pressed Zimbabwe.
In 2002, the EU suspended bilateral co-operation with the country’s government and had been channelling all humanitarian support through non-governmental organisations.
However, President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace remain under an asset freeze and a ban to travel to the EU.
Last year, the EU indicated that it would from 2015 start a $300 million five-year funding programme to support Zimbabwe’s health, agriculture and governance initiatives.
Zimbabwe requires approximately $27 billion, more than double the size of its economy, to fund an ambitious five-year economic plan, ZimAsset — targeted at improving basic services, food security and infrastructure rehabilitation.
In another development, which analysts said signalled confidence in the country, a British business delegation visited Zimbabwe last year for the first time in nearly 20 years while a French business delegation was in Zimbabwe last week on a mission to explore opportunities in Zimbabwe.
In past years, investors have skirted the Zimbabwe, with analysts arguing that the indigenisation policy — compelling foreigners to cede majority shareholding to black Zimbabweans — is one of the major obstacles to attracting capital.