Zim, Swiss relations evolve

Review & Mail Writers

Ambassador of Switzerland to Zimbabwe, Niculin Jager says his country’s relations with the Southern African country have evolved but remain strong, 42 years into the latter’s Independence from Britain.

Jager said since independence in 1980, Switzerland had maintained its presence in Zimbabwe without any interruptions, a move that has seen bi-lateral relations between the two countries cemented.

 “I would say they (relations) developed full-time, first from technical, economical and multilateral assistance and cooperation. For example, when Zimbabwe became independent, we also had to build up and maintain the civil aviation fleet. Our Swiss national carrier used to have the same planes and the same models, so we struck a cooperation of maintaining these planes,” he said.

He said the fact that already there was a huge Swiss population resident in Zimbabwe made the links between the two countries even stronger.

“We also had a thousand Swiss people living here. The cooperation was people-to-people cooperation dating back to pre-Independence because we had a lot of missionaries in the country and most of them supported Zimbabwe throughout the liberation struggle.

During the liberation struggle, Switzerland had a Solidarity Movement of Switzerland supporting Zimbabwe in its struggle for liberation and independence.

“We had a strong economic footprint already at that time, several big Swiss companies were here present and operating, so this marked the beginning of our bilateral relations. This further evolved into the second phase, including humanitarian assistance after the 2000s. There was need for humanitarian assistance, so we additionally opened an office for humanitarian assistance to our diplomatic representation,” he said.

This, he said, was followed by another phase of cooperation and development, which was formalised into a cooperation programme, which is currently being strengthened into a full-fledged bilateral programme.

“The other phase is our political programme we are running together with Zimbabwe, which includes our support for democratisation, institution building, political dialogue, dealing with the past and the fourth phase which we are looking at very much to further strengthen is economic cooperation. In 2021, we, together with leading Swiss companies on the ground, established the Swiss-Zimbabwe Business Chamber,” he said.

The relations between the two nations, Jager said, were broad, long-standing and borne out of mutual respect and allowed the two countries to address issues as they arose full-time because the world was changing and getting globalised.

The ushering in of the New Dispensation led by President Emerson Mnangagwa had brought new dynamics politically.

“There was a different political dynamic phase in the 1980s, which lasted until 2017. We have seen President Emerson Mnangagwa visiting the World Economic Forum in Davos as a special guest in January of 2018, his first trip to Europe,” he said.

Switzerland remained together with Zimbabwe throughout.

“We never walked away and our companies stayed whatever the economic situation was in this country. This is perhaps one of the biggest difference between us and other players. This continuity got strengthened under the second republic led by President Mnangagwa since 2018,” the envoy said.

 “To see this engagement and it is also reflected in different sectoral ministries,” he said.

Jagger added; “They reflect our engagement, be it in the field of development and cooperation with the ministry of Finance, other multilateral questions like risk clearance, debt restructuring, be it with the ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the protection of investments, our BIPPA agreement or be it the social sphere concerning development, but also youth and sports, we are also doing projects directed at supporting initiatives of under-21 Zimbabwe handball teams.”

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