Mission Statement from the Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association

ARGE Zimbabwe Friendship, c/o Peter Kuthan, Karlhofstr. 19,
4040 Linz, Austria, Tel./ Fax.: 0043 (0)732 700327
e-mail: argezim@silverserver.at

It is the aim of the Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association to contribute to better mutual understanding and to closer relations of partnership between our peoples. We are commited to develop and strengthen friendship and solidarity.

Austria Zimbabwe Friendship goes back to the late sixties and seventies when the anti-colonial struggle in Africa was at its peak. This struggle was a truly democratic expression of popular demand for political, social, cultural and economic liberation. The fight for liberation was a great inspiration to the new democratic and social movement all over Europe. Active solidarity and support for liberation movements was our response also to anti-democratic conditioning in the West during the Cold War Era.

In the transition period which followed Zimbabwe's Independence, the focus of our attention was the co-operative movement. This led to an undertaking to link self-help-initiatives in the North and the South in order to foster solidarity and learning. A project which assists OCCZIM and its Musengezi District Co-operative Union is a vital offspring of these aspirations.

Since a Zimbabwe tour of two Austrian musicians Attwenger in 1993 more
attention has been given to the field of cultural exchange, still based on bonds of friendship with co-operatives and non-profit-organisations, especially with our partner Kunzwana Trust.

We see cultural expression and exchange as the most authentic way to communicate the common cause and the cultural diversity existing in our different hemispheres. It helps to elaborate and explain the social reality that confronts each continent; it helps to move away from the clichees of poverty and wealth and to adress the roots of imbalance and injustice. Cultural exchange should inspire and encourage those progressive forces which are able to confront and resolve these problems as a global challenge.

Such intentions were of paramount importance for a documentary "Zimbabwe. Respect for Africa" we made in 1994 and which was broadcast on Austrian TV in 1995).

Since the SADC Music Festival in October 1995, we have become far more aware of what culture in SADC region has to offer, of how rich it is in cultural
expression. We would like to join and to support a kind of SADC Music trail by extending our activities to other countries like Mozambique.

Our Cultural Exchange Programme has been funded by Austrian development aid agency, who rightfully see it as a vital contribution to the development of partnership and cooperation in other fields.

Austrian development cooperation with Zimbabwe amounts to twenty million Zimbabwe dollars a year. Austrian aid focuses on small scale business development in order to support Government efforts in employment creation and its Poverty Alleviation Action Plan. Austria recently donated just under nine million Zimbabwe dollars to drought relief.

Mozambique has been chosen as one of Austria's special target countries for development cooperation.

Our Cultural Exchange Programme has never been seen as a one way ticket. We
were very happy to bring Zimbabwean groups like Oliver Mutukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo to Austria. This was another opportunity to bring across our message of respect and friendship.

Peter Kuthan Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association

The Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Department for Development
Cooperation and the Department for Cultural Relations; the Austrian Embassy
Harare, Ambassador Dr. Felix Mikl; the Ministry of Culture and Recreation,
Zimbabwe; the Mozambique Embassy authorities; the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Geneva;
VIDC, Vienna, the Austrian North South Institute
Argezim & Kunzwana Trust