by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE first high-level United Nations official to visit Zimbabwe in years has welcomed pledges by government for credible elections and expressed confidence in ongoing economic reforms to attract investors.
Achim Steiner, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, spoke in Harare at the just-concluded three-day tour that culminated in a meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The visit coming a few months after Mnangagwa succeeded long time rule Robert Mugabe signaled UN and UNDP’s continued support to Zimbabwe.
Steiner, who is also Vice Chair of the UN Development Group, welcomed Mnangagwa’s election pledge for peaceful elections as an important milestone for a successful transition.
The envoy, who said polls were an urgent priority, said the exercise was key to the country’s future course of international re-engagement and economic recovery.
This comes after decades of international isolation and ruinous policies by Mugabe, who was forced to resign in November.
“UNDP is committed to continue supporting the preparatory process for the election and economic recovery efforts,” Steiner said.
Elections are likely to be held in July. Some 5,4 million voters have registered since the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission launched a biometric voter registration process in October.
After discussions with the president and other government officials, Steiner also promised the international community’s willingness to assist Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.
“We commend steps taken by the government in terms of policy and legal reforms to improve the ease of doing business,” said Steiner said.
With the support of its development partners, UN spent $409 million (R4,9 billion) in programmes in Zimbabwe last year.
UNDP accounts for half of the financial support.
– CAJ News