— Visiting German Development Minister Dirk Niebel made rounds in Harare Monday meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and pledged continued support from Berlin to Harare on key development challenges such as local government, water, and sanitation.
The two officials also spoke on bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Germany and major political issues, including preparations for the constitutional referendum and election anticipated next year.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s acting spokesman William Bango told VOA the meeting with Niebel was fruitful.
"The minister pledged to continue supporting the Zimbabwean people through a variety of development projects … during his visit he did undertake a range of tours to areas where his government is sponsoring a number of programmes," said Bango
Niebel also paid a courtesy call on Vice President Joyce Mujuru, expressing Germany's interest in assisting as international observers in the next election, and also in investing in Zimbabwe.
Niebel, who is the first member of the German cabinet to visit Zimbabwe since 1997, will meet with civil society organizations during this four-day visit.
However, he will not be meeting with President Robert Mugabe, saying a meeting with the president could be - in his words - “exploited.”
Niebel expressed cautious optimism that elections next year would be free and fair, but urged transparency in the ongoing democratic reform process, something he said Germany would support.
Germany has since 2009, supported Zimbabwe with more than $130 million in humanitarian and developmental projects, including training of local government officials, support on water and sanitation issues in the country’s hardest hit areas, and rural and urban development programmes.
Interview With William Bango