BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE European Union (EU) says it is currently engaging opposition parties and other stakeholders as it gears up for formal dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.
Zimbabwe and the bloc last formally engaged in 2019 at ministerial level as the two parties sought to normalise relations after more than a decade of frosty ties.
The dialogue followed years of informal engagements, opening a new page in relations between the two parties.
The dialogue framework is based on Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries which outlines the specific modalities for regular, comprehensive and balanced political dialogue between the two sides.
EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonenn recently told NewsDay that a follow-up meeting with Harare was disrupted by the COVID 19 pandemic.
“So far, two political dialogue sessions have been held. The next edition will go ahead once the EU and the Foreign Affairs ministry can find a mutually suitable date,” Olkkonenn said.
“The EU is engaging political parties and a wide range of other stakeholders in the Zimbabwean society. An engagement with civil society and youth are something that the EU particularly values.”
He, however, said formal dialogue would only take place between the EU and the government and there were no pre-conditions set.
“Of course, we are in continuous contact with the government, particularly through its Foreign Affairs ministry,” he said.
The EU has been demanding reforms from the Zimbabwean government as well as the upholding of human rights and return to constitutionalism as Mnangagwa’s government has been accused of shrinking the democratic space.
The government has been under EU and the United States spotlight for allegedly using State institutions to clamp down on dissent, especially opposition supporters and human rights defenders.
Last month, the EU condemned the continued incarceration of MDC Alliance MP Joanah Mamombe and MDC Alliance activist Cecilia Chimbiri, saying the selective application of the law in their case was a violation of human rights.
Last week, the US adjudged Mnangagwa’s government as one of the worst administrations in terms of human rights violations in the world alongside China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
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