By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) launched a formal dialogue process based on Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement which governs relations between member states of the African-Caribbean-Pacific regions and the EU.
The launch comes at a time the country is reeling from a worsening political and economic crisis and there have been mixed reactions from political and civic society activists to this initiative.
According to Civic Society and Churches Joint Forum (CSCJF) national co-ordinator Abigail Mupambi, the launch of this dialogue is a commendable move in helping to mend strained EU and Zimbabwe relations which will be able to attract investor confidence.
“It’s a good move particularly on the issue of mending the broken relations between Zimbabwe and the West since it is these hostile relations that attracted sanctions and contributed in the suffering of the masses to this day.
“I hope the dialogue will act as a genuine platform to foster Zim EU relationship that in turn can help in building the investor confidence for Zimbabwe,” he said.
The same sentiments were echoed by Irvine Takavada of the Occupy Africa Unity Square project who implored President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take the chance to remedy the economy which has brought untold sufferings to ordinary citizens.
“This is a good chance for Mr Mnangagwa I hope he will use it wisely and can work well for us because we have suffered from high inflation rates,” he said.
However, political analyst and Media Centre Zimbabwe director Ernest Mudzengi says the success of the dialogue may be dented by government’s knack of doing piece-meal reforms.
“The dialogue will only help if government is really committed to democratic political and economic reforms and this cannot happen in a situation where government remains in a default mode characterized by window dressing political reforms, a partial anti-corruption drive, lip service to resolving the land issue, continued victimization of pro-democracy activists and such other counter- progressive practices,” Mudzengi said.
Human rights activist Vivid Gwede said the dialogue should not be merely about sanitising an untenable status quo while political activist Tendai Mudehwe views that the government needs to be vigilant when engaging the West.
“The Agenda of Europeans and other races towards Africa remains as it was during the Scramble for Africa and there is a need for our leaders to remain conscious as they were when they fought liberation wars and always go to engagements as equal partners,” he said.
The launch of the formal political dialogue between the EU and Zimbabwe come after 17 years of strained relations between the two.