MINES minister Walter Chidhakwa has appealed to the French government to forget the past and re-engage Harare so that Zimbabwe “develops”.
Chidhakwa made the appeal last week at the ambassador’s residence in Harare where three French companies with business interests in Zimbabwe were presenting their portfolios.
Relations between Zimbabwe and France soured at the turn of the century after Harare was accused of human rights abuses and of the land grab exercise which saw the government violently dispossessing white commercial farmers of their properties.
Like other European Union member states, France cut credit lines and suspended trade relations it had with Zimbabwe.
But Chidhakwa, who was the guest of honour at the French event last week, said it was time to bury the hatchet.
“Let me say that we share a love relationship between Zimbabwe and France and it’s absolutely no doubt that yes, even friends and even those who share love relationships sometimes get into tantrums between each other and for some time we have been but somewhere along the line we must find the love, we must find the friendship that once was us and we must bring it to bear in the development of the two countries,” appealed Chidhakwa.
“Zimbabwe needs to develop and the French also have the same aspiration of wanting their children and their grand-children to grow as much as we do and because we share these common aspirations we must together work towards bringing back that relationship.”
But Chidhakwa’s plea contradicts public outbursts by some of his fellow cabinet colleagues such as youth, indigenisation and economic development minister Patrick Zhuwao and war veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Both Zhuwao and Mutsvangwa are denouncing the west and advocate home grown economic development solutions as well as South-South Cooperation.
On Friday, Zhuwao lambasted Patrick Chinamasa, saying the finance minister was a “dreamer” because he advocates reengagement with the IMF and the World Bank.
Speaking at the same event with Chidhakwa, French ambassador, Laurent Delahousse, said optimism was high among business people who are eyeing Zimbabwe as an investment destination.
“French companies when I meet them here during their visits or in France where I make some presentations to our firms, my massage to them is: do not wait to come to Zimbabwe, the right time look at the country and the market and to look for partners is not tomorrow nor is it five years rather the right time is now,” ambassador Delahousse said.
“And I am happy that three of those companies have answered that call and have decided to join forces and there is a lot of confidence from France about Zimbabwe.”
The companies, Verlinde, Motul lubricants and Manitou Equipment, were officially launching their products for the first time in Zimbabwe at the ambassador’s residence.
The three companies offer goods and services for the mining industry and last week’s event coincided with the on-going Mining Indaba which is being attended by key players in the sector in the capital.
Verlinde Cranes and Hoists was founded in 1858 and offered the French Navy and army engineering a revolutionary “endless screw hoist”, and is France’s leading producer and exporter of hoisting and handling equipment.
Motul is a world class French company specialising in the formulation, production and distribution of high-tech engine and industry lubricants.
The other company, MoTech Africa, is the authorised importer/distributor of Motul products in Zimbabwe and was created with a vision of redefining energy solutions to specialise in the distribution of its products with Manitou being the world’s first rough terrain forklift.