SW Radio Africa (London)

20 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Western Countries Jostle to Fund Zimbabwe

The French government has said it will soon be resuming direct funding to the ruling ZANU PF government, as western efforts to re-engage with the Mugabe regime intensify.

The bilateral cooperation is set to resume November, French envoy to Zimbabwe, Laurent Delahousse told a civil society delegates at a post-election review conference in Bulawayo over the weekend.

"The donor community, the European Union in general and my country in particular will continue to lend support to Zimbabwe through the European Development Fund, provided the government of Zimbabwe agrees," the Daily News quoted the French envoy as saying.

Decades of corruption and economic mismanagement at the hands of ZANU PF have destroyed Zimbabwe's economy, which the party is failing to revive despite the recent discovery of diamonds and the extensive mineral resources in the country.

ZANU PF Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa declared his government broke soon after his party assumed total control through a disputed poll last year.

Although the West condemned the "deeply flawed" poll, there have been deliberate moves to re-engage and normalise relations with ZANU PF, starting with the calibrated removal of targeted sanctions against the Mugabe regime.

This has paved the way for the West to begin giving money directly to Zimbabwe or to adopt various economic turnaround projects that should be the responsibility of the ZANU PF government.

In recent months western donors have announced copious amounts of funds in support of the ZANU PF government, reminiscent of post-war rebuilding efforts.

On Wednesday the government received a financial bail-out worth $53 million, and of this amount $35 million is funded by Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation gave the Zim government a grant of $9 million to boost livestock production in Matabeleland North.

About two weeks ago the Swedish government gave the labour Ministry $15 million to assist children in the country. This financial commitment is not tied to any specific programme and, according to Sweden's Envoy Zim Lars Ronnas, the ZANU PF government can use the money as it sees fit.

Britain recently gave $10 million to enable the country's poor children to access basic education.

Political and economic analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said Zimbabwe does not need the financial resources that western countries are pouring into the country.

"African countries like Zimbabwe are well resourced to transform and develop their own economic turnaround programmes. Zimbabwe has sufficient resources for that but lacks policy consistency because those in government have a mentality to plunder."

"We are already saddled with a $10 billion debt and rather than indebting ourselves further, we need to redeploy our local resources intelligently and this way we will be more committed to our own transformation."

This includes a demonstrable commitment to respecting private property rights, and an end to expropriations policies in the form of indigenisation, said Ngwenya.

Ngwenya said the grants that Zimbabwe was receiving from donors created a mentality of benevolence and laziness, adding that it was clear that many European countries were now looking at Zimbabwe with a long-term viewpoint.

"Mugabe and his party will not be here forever and so the West is positioning itself for when that time comes and it's very clever of them to do this.

"While nothing has changed at the moment in terms of government legitimacy and accountability, Western countries can see that the future is bright and they are moving to secure a place in Zimbabwe for their own businesses," he added.

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