Maxwell Tapatapa, Harare Bureau
AS ties between Zimbabwe and the European Union continue to strengthen — a positive spinoff of President Mnangagwa Engagement and Re-engagement foreign policy — the 27-member bloc has committed more than 400 million Euros to support gender equality, women empowerment and smart agriculture in the country.
Briefing the media after paying a courtesy call on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, at Parliament in Harare yesterday, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Jobst von Kirchmann said they were on board as Zimbabwe implements the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), the economic blueprint that forms the framework towards attaining Vision 2030, to be an upper middle-class economy.
“We discussed how far the European Union can support the National Development Strategy 1 and Vision 2030,” he said.
Ambassador Kirchmann said as part of the EU support towards Zimbabwe, the bloc has, in conjunction with its bank, the European Investment Bank, come up with a multimillion dollar facility that will be extended to Harare.
“We have formed what we call Team Europe and as Team Europe we have identified so far two areas; gender equality and women empowerment and the other one on greener and climate smart agriculture,” he said.
Ambassador Kirchmann said Zimbabwe deserves support as it is the only country in the world where the President has endorsed the High Level Political Compact on Ending Gender-based Violence and Harmful Practices.
“As two areas where Zimbabwe puts a lot of emphasis on; gender for example, the President himself has endorsed the compact on gender based violence.
“It’s the only the country in the world where the President himself did this and on smart agriculture I do not need to explain to you the priorities for Zimbabwe. So I think collectively with the EU member states, in our bank as Team Europe, we will support these two areas with over Euro 400 million for the next couple of years.
“I think that is a very big support and that is done in the spirit that we would like to support Vision 2030 of the country,” said the EU Ambassador.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) secretary-general Mr Paul Zakariya welcomed the support towards greener and climate smart agriculture saying it is critical to the sector.
“Zimbabwe agriculture is on the rebound. It is critical for the sector to be well funded to ensure that climate change related challenges are mitigated.
“The EU support to this critical sector is most welcome. Zimbabwe agriculture can only do better with such practical interventions from development partners,” said Mr Zakariya.
On the gender equality and women empowerment front, Zimbabwe Gender Commission Chief Executive Officer Virginia Muwanigwa said the money will help in the implementation of programmes in limbo that are crucial in pushing gender issues and women empowerment towards Vision 2030.
“Zimbabwe Gender Commission appreciates the allocation of much-needed resources. These will ensure the implementation of programmes to realise the constitutional imperatives in progressively transforming society towards ensuring equal access to and benefit from opportunities in socio-economic and political spheres.”
President Mnangagwa last year launched Spotlight Initiative High Level Compact on ending Gender Based Violence and Harmful Practices in Zimbabwe.