EU to resume lending to private sector
HARARE – The European Investment Bank has resolved to relaunch development activities with the private sector in Zimbabwe, after years of shunning the southern African country.
The relaunch comes at a time the European Union (EU) and Zimbabwe are engaged in a process to normalise relations.
Speaking at the eve of EU Day celebrations in Harare, the EU delegation ambassador, Aldo Dell’Ariccia said the bank could not engage in investment programmes with the government as it is owed 340 million euros.
“Despite the crisis in Europe, the EU is still the first provider of development aid. The crisis at home has not affected our international solidarity,” Dell’Ariccia said, referring to the Eurozone crisis.
He said the bank will invest according to the requests which they receive.
The 27-member bloc has to date provided $1,3 billion in development assistance to Zimbabwe since 2009.
Dell’Ariccia said he will also today be signing $500 000 to the Zimbabwe Culture Fund to promote local arts and culture.
“Arts and culture is critical for reinforcing mutual understanding and further building solid partnership between the EU and Zimbabwe,” he said.
The EU has also pledged their support to a general election to be held sometime this year.
“The EU is ready to financially and technically support Zimbabwe’s elections if requested, but for the moment there has not been any request. We are also ready to work with whoever gets into power,” Dell’Ariccia said.
Zimbabwe recently withdrew a request for money from the United Nations to fund elections expected this year after the international agency sought meetings with civil society.
The withdrawal came after Finance minister Tendai Biti said Zimbabwe could not afford to fund the vote.
Zimbabwe needs about $132 million for the poll. – Bridget Mananavire