Relations between Germany and Zimbabwe were damaged by the state-decreed expropriation of farms from 2000 onwards and the politically motivated violence during the 2002 elections. Since the handover of power in November 2017 and the elections in July 2018, the Zimbabwean Government has shown increased interest in improving bilateral relations. The visit by Federal Minister Gerd Müller in August 2018 demonstrated Germany’s willingness to engage in political dialogue. However, Müller also made it clear that German assistance would only be granted if Zimbabwe implemented necessary reforms. At present, EU sanctions are only in place against Grace Mugabe and Zimbabwe Defence Industries. In an attempt to draw attention away from its misguided economic policies and rampant corruption, the Government has blamed the sanctions for the country’s decline.
Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic and social crisis. Foreign investors are put off by the lack of legal certainty, the inadequate protection of property, as well as problems with the supply of water, electricity, fuel and cash. Since taking up office, President Mnangagwa has announced his intention to initiate economic reforms, ensure budgetary discipline and fight corruption. However, implementation has proven difficult. A bilateral investment protection agreement has been in force since 2000. Its implementation remains difficult due to the political intervention by Government agencies. A double taxation agreement has been in place since 1990.
Owing to political events in Zimbabwe, development cooperation with the country was suspended in 2002. At present, the only measures being supported are those designed to directly improve people’s quality of life and to promote democracy and the rule of law at local level. Germany is a donor to the UNICEF-administered Education Development Fund (EDF), which is ensuring access to primary education in Zimbabwe and helping to ensure food security and the water supply.
Culture and education
A cultural agreement has been in place since 1998. German cultural activities are focused on the education sector. Around 100 students are learning German at the University of Zimbabwe.