Lovemore Lubinda

The governments of Zimbabwe (GoZ) and Switzerland will today, Thursday, 9th of February sign a legal framework, at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development offices in the capital concerning technical, financial cooperation and humanitarian aid.

The framework will be legally binding and would see the two countries strengthening bilateral ties.

GoZ will be represented by the minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa, while Switzerland will be represented by H. E. Mrs Ruth Huber, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Zim/ Swiss trade relations have been low, with the former importing machines and pharmaceutical products, while the later buys agricultural products from the Southern African country.

Following the imposition of economic sanctions in  2000s on Zimbabwe by the European Union, United States of America and Britain alongside other western countries over alleged human rights abuses and the land reform programme, the Swiss government also did the same.

The relations have been thawing for the better in the past few years. In 2013, the regional programme for Southern Africa of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) helped support for the country’s referendum and election process in Zimbabwe, with its human Security Division supporting in the area of peacebuilding.

In 2014 Switzerland awarded the country a $6.3million aid package for the rehabilitation of smallholder irrigation schemes in Masvingo, and expressed commitment to improve ties between the two nations, as well as working directly with GoZ.

Currently, the SDC is also engaged in the works to meet emergency needs of people affected by disasters, and also to secure sustainable livelihoods and support transition in Zimbabwe. In 2013 again, Switzerland provided support worth approximately CHF 17. 5million.

In order to ensure food security and protection for the civilian population in the country, the SDC carries out a number of country-level programmes in various areas such as water, sanitation, hygiene, and humanitarian aid. It is also working in areas to do with the fight against HIV/ AIDS.