When the military dealt with Zimbabwean long-term leader Robert Mugabe last year, Germany's political scene gave a brief sigh. But a year later, Berlin seems to have lost the hope that Mugabe's exit has returned the country to the path of democracy after decades of authoritarian rule.
"We were hoping that President Managauau would introduce major political and economic reforms," DW said in a diplomatic source in Berlin. "So far, we are seeing little progress".
In the eyes of Western observers, the Mnangagwa government has so far failed to reform the country's judicial system or security forces, and the two main pillars of Mugabe's domineering dominance. Critics say the repression of opposition politicians, journalists and civil society organizations is continuing. The controversial presidential elections at the end of July, which were undermined by requests for fraud and violent protests, did not allow Germans to increase their confidence. Security forces filed six protests against delays in election results in early August.
Positive signals, little action
"[President Mnangagwa’s] the government has sent some positive messages and has stated that it is willing to implement political and economic reforms, but in fact, little has happened. But I think that's what international partners are waiting for, "said David Mbae, Zimbabwe's CEO, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, with close relations with the ruling German party, DW.
The new government of Zimbabwe, on the other hand, has repeatedly tried to force both private investors and Western nations to return. Mnangagwa has repeatedly dedicated his slogan to "Zimbabwe is open to business" and has publicly promised to re-establish relations with Western countries such as Germany or Britain. From a rhetorical point of view, at least, this is a remarkable departure from Mugabe's policy of "seeing East". The long-standing leader of Zimbabwe has sought closer ties with China in recent years, since relations with the western parties rushed in the early 2000s.
Germany suspended all bilateral development aid in 2002, following an all-powerful domination of Mugabe's power, which included the seizure of white farms and increased attacks on opposition politicians, civil society and independent media houses. Since then, Berlin has reduced its support for humanitarian aid and assistance to various civil society organizations and multinational funds.
Hard times in Harare
This is a chapter that the new Zimbabwean government would like to close. "We agreed that we should intensify the renewed commitment," Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told reporters after a visit by German Development Minister Gerd Müller to Harare in late August. Chinamasa was replaced as Finance Minister by Mthuli Ncube in September 2018. "We also discussed the need for Zimbabwe to create jobs, in other words, we want to expand and integrate vocational training colleges." We also discussed the credit, "said Chinamasa .
Zimbabwe has a desperate need for financial help, said David Mbae of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation at DW. "The economic situation is terrible, inflation has risen sharply, while wages and wages have stopped, commodity prices have risen dramatically, there have been shortages with bread supply, cooking oil, people have often needed a queue for for the poor Zimbabwe the situation has become extremely terrible, "said DW.
The arrears of more than 11 billion US dollars
However, diplomatic sources in Berlin have told DW that the conditions for credit have not yet been met. Germany insists on first making concrete proposals from the Mnangagwa government for political and economic reforms. Zimbabwe's arrears currently amount to more than $ 11 billion (9.6 billion euros). Restoration of bilateral development aid does not apply to cards.
A delegation led by representatives of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development is expected in Harare for talks later this month. However, a ministry spokesman told DW that the ministry did not plan to make any commitments for this year or for the next one at this stage. "The implementation of political and economic reforms by the Zimbabwean government is a prerequisite for re-launching bilateral development co-operation," he said.
Germany's political opposition calls for more international pressure on the government of President Mnangagwa. "I do not see a real political change in the development of democratic structures. There are still a lot of questions about human rights," Uwe Kekeritz, Green Development Party's parliamentary representative for development co-operation, told DW.
"Development aid should be resumed, but in close cooperation with civil society, as far as possible from the government," said Kekeritz.