The Danish trade and development cooperation minister is set to visit Zimbabwe next week for high level meetings with government to assess progress on projects funded by the Nordic country, the Danish Embassy has said.
The visit by Mogens Jensen from November 5 to 7 makes him the first senior politician from a Western nation to visit the country since the July 31 elections last year and underlines Denmark’s willingness to normalise relations with Zimbabwe.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union has been sour for over a decade after the bloc imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe, his inner circle and selected firms in 2002 over alleged rights abuses.
But the relations have thawed in recent times since Mugabe’s electoral victory last year and the EU is set to make a policy announcement on the reengagement at its meeting next month.
“The minister will hold meetings with senior government officials, civil society and business leaders in order to assess the needs and progress made on Danida funded programmes in Zimbabwe,” said the Danish embassy in a statement.
Jensen is also expected to visit Danish funded projects in the agriculture sector, the judiciary and will explore possible business opportunities between the two countries.
Yesterday a British trade delegation arrived in the country on a three-day visit to explore trade opportunities, the first such mission to Zimbabwe in over a decade.
Denmark is one of Zimbabwe’s biggest bilateral development partners. With an overall budget of $95 million, the Denmark-Zimbabwe Development Partnership Programme (2013 – 2015) aims to build democratic institutions and promote universal human rights.
In June Denmark announced a $20 million grant to Zimbabwe for water, energy and infrastructure rehabilitation.
Denmark is also a member of the Zimbabwe Multi Donor Trust Fund (Zim-Fund) which was set up in 2010 to support the country’s economic recovery efforts. The fund is managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and currently holds $125 million in contributions from seven European countries towards the country’s economic recovery efforts.
Other members of the fund are Australia, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The two countries have a history of cooperation dating back to Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence from Britain when the Nordic country was a strong supporter of the liberation movement.
It closed its embassy in Zimbabwe in 2002 but re-established its diplomatic presence in 2009.- The Source