A senior government official from Denmark announced Wednesday his country will provide more than $40 million annually in direct support to Zimbabwe for the next few years.
Ib Petersen, Denmark’s state secretary for development policy, on a two day visit to Zimbabwe, said the program to be launched later this year is part of Danish efforts to strengthen diplomatic and commercial ties between the two countries.
Mr. Petersen said Denmark is committed to being a strong partner for Zimbabwe and will support political forces working for democratic reforms and economic empowerment of the poor in Zimbabwe.
Over the last few years Denmark has supported the Judicial Service Commission and the constitution making process, among other activities. The new programs will continue to support good governance activities, plus agriculture and infrastructure rehabilitation efforts.
When asked if Zimbabwe is ready for free and fair elections, Peterson said Denmark is listening carefully to all the parties in government, adding that its “entirely up to Zimbabweans to decide when to go for polls.”
However, he said Denmark expects the new constitution to be implemented and other electoral policies to be in place before elections can be held.
Petersen explained Denmark is willing to support the electoral process, as it supported the constitution making process, but he pointed out it will be guided by discussions in the United Nations.
Zimbabwe has approached the UN for help in raising money for elections.
Petersen, who has so far met finance minister Tendai Biti, ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau and JOMIC officials, was expected to officially open a magistrate court which was refurbished with Danish assistance.
He will continue meeting other government ministers before leaving for Mozambique Thursday.
Denmark is a major bilateral donor in the country with a long history of working with Zimbabwe going back to the struggle for independence. It closed its Zimbabwean embassy in 2002 but reopened it in 2009 when the unity government was formed.
Meanwhile, the European Union on Wednesday announced a $12 million pledge of support for Zimbabwe’s small holdings farmers. The support that will be delivered through 2015 seeks to increase agricultural productivity, food and nutrition among small holdings farmers.
EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia, said the EU wants to improve links between farmers and the private sector to improve market access and income generation opportunities.
The funds will be channeled through the Food and AgriculturalOrganization, German Co-operation Agency and a non-governmental organization from Germany.
Dell’Ariccia said the EU contribution will not be directly implemented by Zimbabwe’s government; the support is intended to be part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s plan to boost food security.