SA helps Zimbabwe with $93m in aid funds

via SA helps Zimbabwe with $93m in aid funds  BDlive by Sue Blaine  26 SEPTEMBER 2013

SOUTH Africa gave Zimbabwe $93m worth of aid between 2005 and 2011, according to the UK and Africa-based nongovernmental organisation Development Initiatives’ inaugural Investments to End Poverty report.

South Africa’s relationship with Zimbabwe, one of its neighbour countries, has been increasingly complex and sometimes controversial as that country’s leader, President Robert Mugabe has clung to rule for more than 30 years.

South Africa spent the $209m in “development co-operation” it disbursed in 2011 on African countries, and Cuba, making it the 12th-largest government provider of aid outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

However, the country also received $1.5bn in development aid, making it the 22nd-largest official development aid recipient in 2011, Development Initiatives said. A large portion of this (38%) came from the US.

Development Initiatives claimed its report was “the most comprehensive assessment of foreign aid data to date”, mapping out foreign aid spending and financial flows in 50 countries.

The $93m given to Zimbabwe between 2005 and 2011 came from two government funds, the African Renaissance Fund and the International Co-operation Fund.

Disbursements from these two funds decreased 85% between 2009 and 2011, twice as fast as transfers (a 41% decrease), according to the report’s country profile for South Africa.

This lends credence to comment from Africa@ Work CEO Dianna Games that the African Renaissance Fund was “very much tied” to the support former president Thabo Mbeki gave to Zimbabwe. Mr Mbeki stepped down in September 2008.

The government under President Jacob Zuma has been more critical of Mr Mugabe’s rule, although it continued to play a facilitation role in the country. Mr Zuma concluded his facilitator role in that country last month, after South Africa’s endorsement of yet another election victory for Mr Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party.

Prior to those elections, Harare appealed to South Africa for money to fund the polls. South Africa expressed a readiness to provide the funds, but imposed conditions.

Last week International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane placed international relations director-general Jerry Matjila on special leave following allegations of irregular expenditure of more than R500m from the African Renaissance Fund.

Ms Games said the fund lacked a formal strategy and spending was “ad hoc … a women’s conference here, a sports stadium there … The point is there needs to be a strategy, as a donor — I think the government prefers ‘development partner’ — there is worth in spending on capacity building and industrialisation because (the Southern African) trade balance is weighted in South Africa’s favour and … the politicians are eager to even it out.”

Democratic Alliance (DA) foreign affairs spokesman Ian Davidson said it was a pity more detail on what the money for Zimbabwe was spent on was not available. “If it’s poverty relief that’s one thing, if it’s development projects it’s another … You can’t be negative about poverty relief, starving people are starving people; but if it was for the running of elections, that’s hugely negative … (and I would be) highly reluctant if South Africa was involved in capital investment in a country like Zimbabwe.”

According to Development Initiatives’ report, the largest development outflow from South Africa came from commercial enterprises, peaking at just more than $30bn in 2008 and dipping to under $10bn in 2011.

Total aid emanating from South Africa was slightly under $5bn in 2011.

Long-term loans were the greatest inflow of funds to South Africa; profits on foreign direct investment the greatest outflow, according to the report.

Gross official development assistance to South Africa jumped 79% in 2000 to $1.5bn in 2011, and the US accounted for 38% ($564m) of this. Most of the US funding went to health.