By Richard Muponde

THE European Union (EU) has stuck to its guns that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government should expeditiously implement economic and political reforms, including fighting corruption, as prerequisites to the bloc’s re-engagement with Zimbabwe.

In 2002, the EU imposed restrictive measures against the late former President Robert Mugabe’s government for gross violations of human rights, but most of the targeted measures have since been suspended.

Relations started thawing after Mnangagwa rose to power through a November 2017 coup when he begged the European block for re-engagement, leading into their first meeting in August.

On Thursday, the two parties held a second edition of the re-engagement meetings in which the EU impressed on the government delegation that Harare had to be serious with reforms.

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In a joint statement released after the meeting, the EU noted that economic and political reforms, including the fight against corruption, was the panacea to solving the problems devilling Zimbabweans.

“The EU noted the economic and political reforms agenda, including fighting corruption. The two sides agreed on the importance of reforms and their benefit to Zimbabwean people,” the statement read.

EU and Zimbabwe also acknowledged the commitment to national dialogue, but government remained adamant that dialogue would only be held under the Political Actors Dialogue platform, shutting doors to possible direct talks between Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.

“The Zimbabwean side underlined the call by His Excellency the President for all political parties to join the Political Actors’ Dialogue as unity of purpose among Zimbabweans and political parties was central to developing a mutual vision for Zimbabwe’s path into the future,” the statement further read.

The meeting came barely two days after South Africa urged Chamisa and Mnangagwa to talk to solve the economic and political crisis in the country.

South African International Relations and Co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said Zimbabwe had political and economic crises caused by the antipathy between its political leaders.

Pandor said Zimbabwe had no capacity to solve the economic crisis, which has driven her citizens to flood the neighbouring country in search for greener pastures, without solving the underlying political problems.