After more than a decade of tensions and sanctions, ties between Zimbabwe and the European Union — the country’s second-largest donor — are now in a final sprint toward normalized relations.
While Western donors continue to channel funds to multilateral institutions and nongovernmental organizations on the ground, the EU is on course to become the first donor to resume direct aid to the Zimbabwean government. This follows the recent expiration, at the start of the month, of the aid restrictions it had imposed against its African partner more than 12 years ago.
Few will deny that such unprecedented re-engagement represents a promising step for the future of Zimbabwe, which is reeling under the weight of massive public debt. But it also points to the significant amount of efforts that have yet to be made if the southern African country is to finally engage on the path of stability and inclusive growth.
A shift in approach
EU-Zimbabwe relations fall under the Cotonou Agreement, a treaty governing foreign policy, trade and development cooperation ties between the EU and 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.