Out­go­ing French en­voy de­nies Mawarire ties

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Elita Chik­wati Harare Bureau

FRANCE is pre­pared to con­tinue work­ing on im­prov­ing eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions with Zim­babwe, out­go­ing French Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe, Mr Lau­rent De­la­housse, said yes­ter­day.

He said this af­ter bid­ding farewell to Act­ing Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa at his Mun­hu­mu­tapa of­fices.

Mr De­la­housse has been in Zim­babwe for three years.

He said he en­joyed work­ing with Zim­bab­weans from dif­fer­ent sec­tors and dis­tanced him­self from in­sti­gat­ing vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions.

“I’ll be leav­ing Zim­babwe in three days time, and it is the end of my three year term in this coun­try. It has been a happy term; it has been a very busy term and, I think it has also been an ef­fi­cient term at a time when lots of things have hap­pened in Zim­babwe in terms of pol­i­tics, eco­nomic re­form and evo­lu­tions in the so­ci­ety of Zim­babwe.

“We’ve worked hard to im­prove our eco­nomic re­la­tions and, we’ve dou­bled the num­ber of French com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in Zim­babwe. France is now the sec­ond largest in­vestor in Zim­babwe.

“We’ve also worked very hard to im­prove po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions. Three mem­bers of Gov­ern­ment have been in­vited to France in the last year.

“We’ve restarted out po­lit­i­cal bi­lat­eral di­a­logue and, we’ll con­tinue work­ing on that and, the French min­is­ter is ex­pected to visit Zim­babwe in the com­ing month,” Mr De­la­housse said.

The French en­voy and United States Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe, Mr Harry Thomas Jr, were ac­cused of en­gi­neer­ing civil dis­tur­bances in Harare and Bu­l­awayo, which re­sulted in prop­erty de­struc­tion and loot­ing.

The two were ac­cused of work­ing through dodgy groups and lever­ag­ing on so­cial me­dia to fo­ment civil dis­obe­di­ence and ul­ti­mately desta­bilise Zim­babwe.

Mr De­la­housse said although he worked closely with the civil so­ci­ety, he was wrongly crit­i­cised by the me­dia for caus­ing demon­stra­tions.

He ad­mit­ted to en­gag­ing some peo­ple and meet­ing them.

“I had oc­ca­sions with some of these peo­ple pri­vately and not on so­cial me­dia. We’ve also worked hard with the civil so­ci­ety in all as­pects and all stake­hold­ers in Zim­babwe. I’ve made a lot of friends and have also an­gered some peo­ple. I’ve been wrongly crit­i­cised and, ac­cused in the me­dia.

“I don’t un­der­stand the ac­cu­sa­tions. They’re ridicu­lous. As other diplo­mats, we sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion of Zim­babwe, which pro­vides for the rights of demon­stra­tions and we’ve con­fi­dence in the in­sti­tu­tions of Zim­babwe to make these pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion”.

Mr De­la­housse ad­mit­ted that the demon­stra­tions were vi­o­lent but said the vi­o­lence was of a lesser mag­ni­tude than those in France.

“We’ve seen acts of vi­o­lence have been com­mit­ted by both sides, both demon­stra­tors and some of the re­ac­tionary forces have shown ex­ces­sive vi­o­lence. We call for re­straint, for peace­ful­ness.

“Zim­babwe is a peace­ful coun­try and in France we’ve seen much more vi­o­lence in demon­stra­tions than we’ve seen in Zim­babwe,” he said.

Mr De­la­housse said his en­gage­ments with the civil so­ci­ety was trans­par­ent.

“I had never met or talked to Pas­tor Evan Mawarire. I’ve been ac­cused of meet­ing him and fund­ing him. I’ve never writ­ten to him or talked to him. These ac­cu­sa­tions are stupid,” he said.

Mr De­la­housse, how­ever, said he in­tended to meet Mawarire although he could not get the op­por­tu­nity.

“Af­ter these ac­cu­sa­tions, my in­ten­tion was to meet Pas­tor Mawarire in pub­lic, but I couldn’t be­cause he wasn’t there. I deny these ridicu­lous ac­cu­sa­tions in strong­est terms and I fear that they’re in­spired by a vi­sion of the en­gage­ment pol­icy started by his Ex­cel­lency the Pres­i­dent that some peo­ple don’t share. Some peo­ple pre­fer dis­en­gage­ment, dis­co­op­er­a­tion with the rest of the world so that open­ing of Zim­babwe does not hap­pen.

“I’ve had very pos­i­tive busi­ness and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships with Cab­i­net min­is­ters. I didn’t have friendly re­la­tions with Cab­i­net. I think in Gov­ern­ment as ev­ery­where there’s a host of good peo­ple, very ed­u­cated, very ef­fi­cient peo­ple and I’ve im­mense hope for Zim­babwe. I’m hope­ful and pos­i­tive on the fu­ture of this coun­try as I was when I ar­rived three years ago. I think what is nec­es­sary for Zim­babwe in a very short term is a strong, coura­geous and vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship,” he said.

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