Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

GNU reforms key to credible elections — UK Ambassador

GNU reforms key to credible elections — UK Ambassador

Thursday, 24 May 2012 11:43

ZIMBABWE’S relations with the United Kingdom have been strained since 
Britain refused to fund the government’s chaotic land reform programme from 
2000 which saw thousands of white commercial farmers being displaced and the 
country’s agricultural output plummeting.

The relations have also been tense due to London’s forceful condemnation of 
Harare over political repression, human rights abuses and disputed election 
results which led to the imposition of sanctions by the European Union.
Zimbabwe Independent senior reporter Owen Gagare (OG) spoke to the British 
Ambassador to Zimbabwe Deborah Bronnert (DB) about Zimbabwe-UK relations, 
the current political situation in the country and elections, among other 
issues. Excerpts:

OG: You arrived at a time (last year) when relations between Zimbabwe and 
Britain were strained. What have you done to normalise the situation?
DB: Britain has a very strong commitment to Zimbabwe and our development 
programme (which stood at US$140 million last year) is part of that 
evidence. There are clearly problems at the political level, although this 
isn’t just a UK-Zimbabwe issue but goes much wider, and our views are shared 
by many. 
Part of my job is to try and ensure there is good communication between both 
sides. I want to ensure the UK has an up-to-date view of Zimbabwe.  For 
example, when I was in London (recently) I spoke to a number of audiences in 
the British parliament, business and civil society about what is happening 
in Zimbabwe now.

OG: What is your assessment of the country’s political situation? Is 
Zimbabwe on the right path? What is your country’s view on the 
implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)?
DB: I have heard lots of frustration about the lack of progress on full 
implementation of the GPA, but I think the inclusive government remains the 
most credible means of taking forward reforms and transforming Zimbabwe’s 
prospects until the next elections. The inclusive government has a lot to be 
proud of — the economy has grown, inflation is stable and basic education 
and health services have been pulled back from the brink of collapse. There 
has also been some political reform and reports of human rights abuses seem 
to have fallen. Of course, we hope that reforms which have started will be 
seen through.

OG: What is your assessment of Sadc and South African President Jacob Zuma’s 
mediation efforts in Zimbabwe?
DB: We very much welcome his personal leadership and the work to produce an 
election roadmap and we fully support him and Sadc in their efforts to 
create the conditions for credible and properly monitored elections in 

OG: How do you relate with Zimbabwe’s political players across the divide?
DB: I talk to everybody and I’ve generally found that ministers from across 
the political divide have been very happy to talk to me and exchange 
views. We obviously don’t always agree but all exchanges have been 

OG: Most European countries have been sceptical about Zimbabwe’s 
indigenisation programme; what is Britain’s position?
DB: I’d start of by saying it’s really important ordinary people in Zimbabwe 
benefit from investment and economic growth. So the idea of sustainable and 
inclusive economic growth has to be right and has to be particularly 
important in the context such as Zimbabwe’s. I’m concerned, and I have said 
this to the relevant ministers, about the way the indigenisation policy is 
being implemented and reports that I’ve heard from business that it’s 
undermining the business confidence and deterring investment that the 
country clearly needs.

OG: Would you say the policy has stopped British investment from flowing to 
the Zimbabwean economy and to what extent?
DB: It’s up to individual companies to make their own decisions, but recent 
figures (from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World 
Investment Report 2011) suggest the Sadc region (excluding Angola) attracted 
some US$10 billion in foreign direct investment in 2010. Some neighbouring 
countries apparently received nearly US$1 billion each compared to just over 
US$100 million in Zimbabwe. This may be an indication that the Zimbabwean 
government needs to work harder to improve the business climate, including 
implementation of its indigenisation policy.

OG: There have been reports that Britain and the EU are desperate to 
re-engage Zimbabwe so that they benefit from its rich resources which 
include diamonds, in the face of massive movement by the Chinese, hence the 
removal of travel restrictions on Zanu PF ministers who are part of the 
re-engagement team. Is this the case?
DB: No. The UK and the rest of the EU want to see a stable and prosperous 
Zimbabwe. Of course, we’d like the political relationship to improve. On 
China, we welcome investment from China in the UK and China is playing an 
important role in the growth and development of Africa. Like China, we see 
trade as vital in helping African economies grow and exit poverty. But for 
countries to grow and develop, they require not just infrastructure but 
skills, improved health and better governance and institutions.

OG: Zimbabwe is likely to hold elections by the end of next year. Given what 
is going on in the country, do you think the country is ready?
DB: This is really for Zimbabweans to decide, but clearly in terms of what 
the rest of the world thinks, we would be looking at implementation of the 
GPA, and clearly the prospects for credible elections will be greater if 
sufficient time is allowed for important reforms.

OG: Does Britain see itself playing any role in these elections?
DB: We are ready to assist in monitoring efforts in Zimbabwe, including 
through multilateral partners such as the Commonwealth, but the UK will only 
come at the invitation of the government of Zimbabwe. I should just say in 
the UK when we have national elections we have a lot of international 
observers and the reason we do that is that we think it’s a good part of the 
democratic process. It’s important for countries to demonstrate both 
to their own systems and to the rest of the world that they are open and are 
proud of their democratic process and, therefore, they are comfortable with 
other people looking at what they are doing.


New Posts: