President Robert Mugabe's advanced age and the growing protests against his rule are one reason why Zimbabwe is attracting the renewed attention of international policy makers.
Gunter Nooke, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Personal Representative for Africa, has been having talks with Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and civil society representatives. DW's correspondent in Harare, Privilege Musvanhiri, asked Gunter Nooke for his insights into the current state of Zimbabwe.
DW: What is your assessment of the prevailing conditions in Zimbabwe?
Gunter Nooke: Zimbabwe is one of those African countries with a huge potential for development; the educational system is better, the various NGOs are much more active [than in other countries]. The prospects for Zimbabwe's future development are huge.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is regarded by some as a possible successor to 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe
We've had a lot of demonstrations in Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans demonstrating against the government, against [rights] violations. Did this come up in your discussions?
Of course, I raised the issue with the vice president and he referred to the rule of law and that peaceful demonstrations are allowed in the country, but he also mentioned that the police were responsible for apprehending violent demonstrators in order to avoid any violence in the demonstrations. We agreed on the need for non-violent demonstrations and street rallies. I mentioned one of the main things - looking at Zimbabwe from abroad - namely that investors, diplomats, politicians or heads of state, need to be able to trust the country, that also means trust the ruling party, the president and politicians. That is the key issue - [at the moment we have] distrust and not trust.
Zimbabwe has been ranked third among the top ten improved African countries in terms of governance. What do you think of this ranking?
It is too simple a perception of the country. I think we have to look at the country in its entirety; the different issues, serious human rights violations, yet well-trained people. There would be a huge potential for the future if the political leadership were to open up the country and if the climate of fear and the spirit of resignation of many young people were to be removed.
Gunter Nooke is German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Personal Representative for Africa
Interviewer: Privilege Musvanhiri, Harare