Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on Wednesday openly clashed with European Union (EU) Ambassador to Harare Aldo Dell’Ariccia over sanctions and aid.
Dell’Ariccia paid a courtesy call on Mutambara at his Munhumutapa offices where they discussed the Zimbabwe-EU re-engagement programme among other issues.
After the meeting they fielded questions from journalists, where it was evident that they did not agree on several issues.
Asked whether the EU would consider lifting sanctions in the near future, Dell’Ariccia insisted that the EU had not slapped sanctions on the country but had imposed restrictive measures targeted at certain individuals.
He said the restrictive measures were reviewed annually and would next be reviewed in February next year, adding that action taken by EU would depend on progress made by Zimbabwe.
Mutambara, however, differed with the ambassador and insisted that the sanctions were real and were damaging the country.
“This is an area where we have a happy disagreement,” said Mutambara. “We don’t believe they are targeted sanctions but they are real sanctions which are hurting the economy.
“The desire might be targeted but the impact is that they are damaging the brand of the country. When the head of a country is under targeted sanctions, it hurts the whole country.”
Mutambara said the EU’s position on sanctions was “dodgy” given that the inclusive government, Southern African Development Community, African Union, Common Market for East and Southern Africa and other bodies had called for the lifting of sanctions.
Dell’Ariccia said the targeted sanctions were put in place in 2002, after it was felt that there was no rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights.
“There will be no reason for the restrictive measures to remain in place once the country upholds the rule of law, democracy and human rights,” he said.
He said the EU was taking note of the progress being made by government.
Mutambara, however, said the EU should engage Zimbabwe without putting conditions.
“There should be concurrent and simultaneous execution of obligations,” he said.
“We are conscious of our duty and all we are asking Europe is to stop putting conditions on us. We don’t want to be treated like children. We appreciate the help but we don’t want to be graded and monitored.”
Dell’Ariccia said the EU had been a great friend to Zimbabwe and was always channelling a lot of aid to the country through non-governmental organisations and civil society.
He said although the money was not going directly into government coffers, it was being used in government programmes such as sewer reticulation and was therefore benefiting the whole country.
Mutambara, however, said there was no development which could occur through NGOs and civil society.
He also said the EU should move from giving aid and start investing and trading with the country to create jobs.