HARARE, — The European Union (EU) has earmarked 234 million euros (about 320 million U.S. dollars) for development assistance to Zimbabwe in the next six years, provided the regional Western bloc votes unanimously this November to completely lift sanctions on the southern African country.
Both Zimbabwe Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and EU ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia confirmed the development Wednesday at the 11th European Development Fund consultative workshop in Harare.
The workshop was convened in order to gather stakeholder input on the draft document for the development assistance targeting health, agriculture and governance and institutional strengthening for the period 2014 to 2020.
If it eventually comes, the development assistance will mark the first time in more than a decade for the EU to provide direct development assistance to Zimbabwe.
The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 alleging human rights violations and has since then been providing humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe through nongovernmental organizations.
But over the years, the EU has been easing the sanctions and in February this year removed the remaining individuals and state enterprises on the sanctions list except President Robert Mugabe and his wife.
Also in February, the European Council decided that if no disruptive incidences to democratic order occur in Zimbabwe, the EU will completely lift its sanctions on Zimbabwe.
At the consultative meeting, Dell’Ariccia expressed hope that Zimbabwe will remain on the path of democratic order in order for the sanctions to be completely removed and pave way for direct development aid to the southern African country.
“I hope it will be possible to do the last step in normalization of development cooperation between Zimbabwe and the EU,” he said, hinting that the EU may conduct a mid-term review and provide more funding to Zimbabwe during the six-year period.
“But all this will depend on the decision to be taken by the European Council in November,” he added.
Chinamasa also expressed hope that the EU will fulfill its promise and lift sanctions on Zimbabwe.
“We have faith that the sanctions will be lifted and that the lifting will pave way for full normalization of relations between Zimbabwe and the EU,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe was committed to full re-engagement with the EU and hoped the strengthened cooperation with the EU would in the future graduate to support towards modernization of the country’s energy, water and transport infrastructure.