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Interview with Swedish ambassador on the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe
Taurai Maduna,
February 24, 2006

Read SIDA pledges continued support for child rights project in Murehwa

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Mr Sten Rylander, Swedish Ambassador to ZimbabweAfter presenting his credentials to the President of Zimbabwe at State House on February 16, 2006, Mr Sten Rylander the new Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe made his first trip outside Harare to Murehwa district located 85 km North East of Harare.

In Murehwa, the Ambassador handed over a vehicle and two motorbikes for the community child rights project being implemented by the Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa (SAHRIT).

The Ambassador spoke to journalists on a number of issues after the hand-over ceremony. Issues discussed included the strained relationship between the European Union and Zimbabwe; the role of NGO's in Zimbabwe and the importance of children's rights.


Direct translations from the ambassador

Relationship between Sweden and Zimbabwe
"We do actually a lot still and we are building on the old relationship from the liberation struggle, solidarity network that developed over a number of years humanitarian support to ZANU and ZAPU at the time."

"It has created a very special relationship between my country and Zimbabwe that I'm proud of. At the same time now we have problems. I think you are all aware of the strained relationship between the Zimbabwe government and the European Union. But it has not stopped us in Sweden or other members states in the European Union, for that matter to support the people of Zimbabwe strongly through civil society, through the United Nations system." listen to audio

The ambassador speaks about his tour of duty
"One of the most important parts of my mission is to find ways to encourage change, political and economic change, so Zimbabwe can come back to normal and in a normal situation sanctions and other things will fade away, will fall away. But we need efforts to strengthen governance to deal with economic stability where you have world record high inflation. I can just refer to a presentation by Governor Gono a couple if weeks ago when he mentioned all these things that need to be done and I hope they will be done and that we can build bridges. Your president mentioned bridge building recently. I think we can find ways and means to move in a good direction and will establish a good link between Zimbabwe and the international community."
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Comment of the relationship between Government and NGO's
"I think also that this era when the NGO civil society was questioned, we are passed that stage, I think. The NGO Bill was passed by parliament but not signed by your president. It was meant to put a lot of restrictions on NGO activities. I think and hope that it will not happen because you need a strong NGO community to deal with economic and social problems."
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Childrens rights
"Don't detain children, don't put them in prison, I don't think they do it in Murehwa but they have done it in other places including Harare. So that is another lesson you can pick up from here. When you have a lot of knowledge about the rights of children you will not detain them or put them in prison."
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