Cape Town – Zimbabwean Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has reportedly said that relations between Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) will remain "frosty" until a travel ban on President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, is lifted.
According to the Daily News, Chinamasa said this after the trading block signed off an aid deal with Harare.
The EU, on Monday gave Zimbabwe nearly $270m, the first time the block has given financial aid to the southern African nation's government since imposing sanctions in 2002.
The 28-nation EU has gradually eased biting sanctions on Zimbabwe to encourage political reform, although it has kept an asset freeze and a travel ban on Mugabe and his wife, as well as an arms embargo.
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Poisoned and unproductive
"Zimbabwe... has a chief executive and as long as the chief executive remains under sanctions, our relations remain poisoned and unproductive," Chinamasa was quoted as saying, as he called for the unconditional lifting of sanctions against the Mugabes.
The EU recently lifted a travel ban on Mugabe while he serves as African Union chairperson, a move that was described by his ruling Zanu-PF party as "inconsequential".
African leaders recently appointed Mugabe as the new chairperson of the 54-nation African Union.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was reported as saying the temporary lifting of the ban was "an effort to hoodwink the continent".
The EU could not say if Grace would also be allowed to travel with him.