Since the visit in May 2009 (the first ministerial visit since 1996) by Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, no French official has visited Zimbabwe. The desire by both countries to resume political dialogue and normalize their relations was made concrete with the bilateral political consultations in Harare on 5 June 2015 at the level of the Secretaries-General.
In September 2015, Ms Oppah Muchinguri, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, met her French counterpart, Ségolène Royal, in Paris. President Mugabe attended the Paris climate conference in December 2015 (the EU sanctions regime did not prevent him from doing so). Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, met his French counterpart, Michel Sapin, in Paris on 30 June 2016. President Mugabe was present at the Africa-France Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence in Bamako in January 2017. Lastly, the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Joseph Made, was invited to the Paris International Agricultural Show in February 2017. The Minister for Finance, Mr Chinamasa, travelled to Paris on 1 and 2 March 2018, this time as a special envoy to President Mnangagwa, and met with Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. On 26 March 2018, Secretary of State Lemoyne met with President Mnangagwa in Abidjan. The AFD Director General travelled to Zimbabwe on 5 to 7 October 2018 and met with President Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwean Vice Minister for Agriculture, Vangelis Haritatos, visited the Paris International Agricultural Show in February 2019. The Zimbabwean Minister for Finance, Mthuli Ncube, travelled to Paris on 8 March and 7 May 2019 (meetings at the Treasury and the AFD).
Although limited, economic relations between France and Zimbabwe are developing. About thirty French companies, including Total and Lafarge, are established in the country. Trade between the two countries is limited, and French exports which totalled €22.5 million in 2018 compared to €51 million in 1999, are dominated by mechanical and electrical equipment, while imports (€52 million in 2018 compared to €29 million in 1999) mainly involved agricultural products (Customs).
The growth sectors are infrastructure and urban services (water, transport, energy, waste, etc.), food, consumer goods, tourism, telecommunications, the mining sector and, more generally, modernizing an industrial sector which in many cases dates back to the1970s.
French assistance to Zimbabwe is mainly through multilateral and European channels. France’s share (3rd largest contributor to the Global Fund) in Zimbabwe’s payments to the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is US$65 million for the 2017-2019 period. France’s share (60%) of Unitaid’s budget paid to Zimbabwe was US$32 million between 2006 and 2016. France’s contribution (18%) to European aid in Zimbabwe is around €42 million (11th European Development Fund (EDF) €234 million 2014-2020).
France contributes to sustainable Development and the protection of the environment through the
French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD). Under the COP21, France (through an AFD facility) cooperated with Zimbabwe to establish its national climate contribution. Our academic and technical cooperation is mainly focused on health and archaeology (rock art).
As regards culture, the Alliances Françaises in Harare and Bulawayo, a branch office of which opened in Victoria Falls in April 2017, as well as the bilingual “Jean de la Fontaine” French school in Harare, help increase the dissemination of French language and culture.