“No Reforms No Aid,” UK Tells Zimbabwe
4 October 2020
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Paul Nyathi

Julian Braithwaite,

THE United Kingdom ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and United Nations (UN), Julian Braithwaite, last week told Zimbabwe delegates to the Geneva Trade Policy Review that the country must shift its policy if it was looking to attract UK co-operation.

The September 30 UK-Zim Geneva conference was attended by Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana among other delegates.

At the meeting in Switzerland, Braithwaite impressed on the need for Zimbabwe to change its economic and political policies if it still wished to engage in meaningful co-operation with the UK government.

“The UK is committed to supporting a more prosperous, peaceful and democratic Zimbabwe,” the UK ambassador to the WTO said.

In what also may have “ruffled feathers” among the Zimbabwe delegation, Braithwaite said it was essential for the Government of Zimbabwe to refrain from being stuck in rheroric but instead quickly move forward and implement necessary far reaching economic and political reforms.

“Meaningful progress on reforms, along with respect for human rights and the rule of law, are the only way to sustainably deal with Zimbabwe’s underlying challenges, unlock significant investment and bring about a better future for Zimbabwe and its people,” he said.

The Zimbabwe delegation was also told that high-level corruption was among some of the country’s most dangerous enemies.

“As noted in the reports prepared for this review, corruption continues to hamper Zimbabwe’s development by capturing public and private resources, distorting economic decision-making and undermining governance and accountability.

“We continue to urge Zimbabwe to guarantee the independence of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the courts,” Braithwaite said.

The UK ambassador to the WTO UN also impressed on the need by Zimbabwean authorities to tackle entrenched vested interests and illicit financial flows in the affairs of the country among senior government officials and others in influential positions.

On the mining sector, Zimbabwe was urged to exercise transparency and sign up all policy frameworks to that effect.

“Within the mining sector, signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, restarting efforts to digitise mining licenses and ensuring compliance with environmental impact assessment requirements, would go some way to restoring the confidence of international investors,” Braithwaite said.

Meanwhile, the WTO ambassador praised Zimbabwe for its resolve to settle outstanding land issues.

“We welcome the Zimbabwe government’s commitments to resolving outstanding land issues.

“We (however) encourage Zimbabwe to take credible steps to ensure the viability and security of tenure in the 99-year leases, stop further farm invasions, ensure continued progress on compensation and guarantee respect for court decisions on property rights disputes,” he said.

Braithwaite added that such steps as were being implemented by the Government of Zimbabwe on land were critical to unlocking the much needed international investment into the country’s agriculture sector.

The ambassador also praised Zimbabwe for moving towards a fully market-based exchange rate.

“We hope that this can help remove exchange rate distortions that enable rent‑seeking behaviour in the economy and create barriers to international investors repatriating their returns on investment,” he added.