New British Ambassador to help Zim's recovery

HARARE - The appointment of the new British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Melanie Robinson who has a strong background in aid and finance is a sign that Britain is considering creating more synergies with the country to tackle poverty, economists have said.

In a Press statement on Tuesday the British government appointed Robinson as Ambassador to Zimbabwe starting in January 2019.

Robinson is the current World Bank Group, Washington director for the United Kingdom and has worked at the Department for International Development(DFID) which funds organisations that are working to end poverty.

Her appointment has been welcomed as a good move by economists considering her background.

Economist Eldred Masunungure said Robinson’s appointment indicated that Britain is indeed willing to work on recovering the country’s economy.

“By being at the World Bank and being a career diplomat, her credentials are squarely technical to economic, trade and investment issues.

“Robinson brings both the well viewed diplomatic experience to deal with economic recovery programmes in Zimbabwe, which is needed at this stage. Undoubtedly, Britain is creating synergies with Zimbabwe,” he said.

Masunungure said he believes Robinson will do well in dealing with the technical economic trade investment issues rather than hard politics of Zimbabwe.

“I think basing on her credentials, she will be dealing less with the hard political issues and more with the economic recovery issues to do with trade, aid and investment.

“She will also do a good job in advising the British investors of opportunities and evaluating the technical side of synergies between Britain and Zimbabwe,” he said.

John Robertson another economist, however, said the new ambassador should use her term to help the country lure investors.

“I hope during her stay the new ambassador will encourage the government to create stronger success in attracting investors guided by her experience.

“Aid is not always appropriate because when money is handed to the government it always disappears. We do not need aid because it is not helpful, and we need investors.

“I don’t think her position at the World Bank will make any impact; the World Bank gives loans that need to be repaid. We have, however, failed to pay some loans and there is no way they will give us again,” he said.

This is not the first time that Britain has hinted on strengthening ties to improve the economy.

Speaking to NCA News during her visit to South Africa recently British Prime Minister Theresa May said she is pleased by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pledge to institute a commission of inquiry into the violence that occurred just after the July 30 elections and endorsed his leadership.

“I think there’s a real opportunity for Zimbabwe now and I look forward to Zimbabwe being able to grasp that opportunity for the future.

“Mnangagwa is the elected president and has taken a key step by setting up an inquiry into the violence and that is a very important signal from him about the Zimbabwe he wants to see for the future,” May said.

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