After diplomatic relations were established soon after the country won independence in 1980, relations developed positively for a long time. Relations deteriorated significantly as a result of the state-decreed expropriation of farms from 2000 onwards, which also affected German landowners, and politically motivated violence during the elections in 2002 and 2008. Since 2013, however, Germany has supported a policy of re-engagement within the framework of the EU. The Zimbabwean Government has shown increased interest in this since the handover of power in November 2017 and the elections in July 2018. However, the necessary political reforms were only partially implemented and protests were violently suppressed. The Government continues to take repressive measures against the opposition. Restrictive measures on the part of the EU apply only to Zimbabwe Defense Industries, alongside an arms embargo.
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 and cash. When taking up office, President Mnangagwa announced his intention to initiate economic reforms, ensure budgetary discipline and fight corruption. Implementation of these reforms is lacking, however. Zimbabwe ranked 157 out of 180 in the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). A bilateral investment protection agreement has been in force since 2000. Its enforcement remains difficult, however. 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 living conditions and to promote democracy and the rule of law at local level. Otherwise, Germany only supports NGO projects in the areas of food security, drought protection and water supply.
A cultural agreement has been in place since 1998. German cultural activities centre on the education sector and cultural exchange. German is taught as a subsidiary subject at the German Faculty of the University of Zimbabwe. A Goethe-Zentrum in Harare offers language courses and cultural events. Harare and Munich, as well as Kernen and Masvingo, are twin towns.