Minister Chinamasa detained in Germany


Minister Chinamasa, who was part of the Zimbabwean delegation that joined an advance team led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — who was already in Europe — had his booking for Brussels cancelled by the immigration officials, who insisted that he was not supposed to proceed as he was on the EU sanctions list.

Minister Chinamasa yesterday confirmed his detention at Frankfurt International Airport and the ordeal he went through at the hands of German immigration officials.

"They kept on telling me that they were verifying the authenticity of the visa documents I had because I am on the sanctions list.

"They proceeded to cancel my booking to Brussels. As a result, I did not attend some of the meetings. They finally rebooked me six hours later," Minister Chinamasa said.

The Zimbabwean delegation, which flew to Brussels last month, almost failed to travel because some EU member-states were against the inclusion of officials from Zanu-PF, insisting that they were on a travel ban.

Besides Minister Chinamasa and his Foreign Affairs counterpart Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (both Zanu-PF), the delegation also included Ministers Elton Mangoma (Economic Planning and Investment Promotion), Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (Regional Integration and International Co-operation), Welshman Ncube (Industry and Commerce) and Tendai Biti (Finance) — all from the MDC formations — and was led by PM Tsvangirai.

Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Sten Rylander — whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency — told The Herald that he did not have details on Minister Chinamasa’s detention in Germany.

"Maybe the people at Frankfurt did not have more information on Minister Chinamasa’s travel arrangements. He later joined us during the meeting in Brussels," Mr Rylander said.

The Swedish ambassador, however, said formal dialogue between Zimbabwe and the European Union Troika was set to begin in Harare soon as the two parties explored ways to thrash out remaining thorny issues.

The success of the dialogue would eventually see the lifting of the illegal economic sanctions and other forms of sanctions imposed on the country by the European bloc.

The troika — comprising Sweden, the EU representative to Zimbabwe Mr Xavier Marchal and Spanish Ambassador Ms Pilar Fuertes — was set to meet with Zimbabwe’s technical team made up of the permanent secretaries of five ministries.

The Zimbabwean technical committee is chaired by Foreign Affairs Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha.

Mr Rylander confirmed that informal discussions had been going on between the troika members and the Zimbabwean officials over the past two weeks with a view to kick-starting formal discussions.

"Formal meetings might start before the end of the week . . . I had informed meetings with (Mr) Bimha and others. We are talking . . . it’s not that we are at a standstill," he said.

During the meetings, the technical team chaired by Ambassador Bimha will represent the Zimbabwean side.

Other members of the team are secretaries and officials from the ministries of Finance, Regional Integration and International Co-operation, Justice and Legal Affairs, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, and Industry and Commerce.

Said Mr Rylander: "Nothing much has happened since the Brussels meeting. The technical team needs guidance from their principals."

Zimbabwe and EU members had their first meeting in Brussels last month after almost seven years of acrimonious relations.

During the forthcoming meetings, the Zimbabwean team will present to the troika its commitment plan in implementing the Global Political Agreement and the time frame in thrashing out issues that are of concern to the EU members.

During the meeting, the EU is also expected to submit its commitment plan and come up with a concrete undertaking to address all forms of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and its leadership over the years and the restoration of normal relations.

Mr Rylander said following the Brussels meeting, things had been moving smoothly in the country except for a few pockets that he said were also being addressed.

"We are seeing a lot of progress on the economic side, but on the political side we have not seen much . . . like media reforms. We are also looking forward to seeing the land audit being completed.

"I was shocked with the developments at the constitution conference," he said, referring to the disruption on the opening day of the all-stakeholders conference last week, "but the next day the meeting went on well after the principals had made a statement. The developments at the national vision meeting were also encouraging. There is a collective spirit on what is happening in the country. Zimbabwe is moving in the right direction," he said.

Ambassador Bimha could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country.