Denmark says it wants closer ties with Zimbabwe and believes that it could help revive the troubled southern African nation’s stuttering economy.
Denmark ambassador to Zimbabwe Erik Brogger Rasmussen said at the weekend that the visit this week by the Danish Minister of Trade and Development, Mogens Jensen, will be the launch pad for improved cooperation between the two countries.
“From a Danish perspective it is an opportunity for our Minister of Trade and Development Cooperation to assess the current situation in Zimbabwe,” he said adding that the engagement with government officials would also signify a willingness to seek dialogue, “a dialogue that will be open and non-prescriptive”.
“Denmark having been away from Zimbabwe between 2002 and 2010 is now again here with a sizeable presence, the (trade minister’s) visit will cement that. In other words, the visit will take our engagement to a new level. We hope that the government of Zimbabwe will be prepared and willing to move to that new level also,” said Rasmussen.
The visit by Jensen comes after the European Union (EU) on Thursday lifted its decade-long economic sanctions on Zimbabwe and bloc extending €234 million to support development programmes in the country.
President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, however, still remain on the EU restrictive measures which are due for review next February.
The EU imposed sanctions on President Mugabe, his inner circle and selected firms in 2002 over alleged rights abuses.
Since then, Zimbabwe has struggled to access cheap credit lines that are crucial for the revival of its businesses and industry.
Rasmussen noted that while the Nordic country does not have mechanisms in place currently to directly fund the local industry, plans were afoot to create partnerships between businesses in the two countries.
“Danish companies are interested in Zimbabwe but are bit concerned about the business environment, including the lack of rule of law. The Minister will assess the environment and report back to the Danish business community,” said Rasmussen.
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 this year, 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 Source