via Zim government appears on the verge of a UN bailout | SW Radio Africa by Mthulisi Mathuthu December 9, 2013
The United Nations (UN) could soon bail out Zimbabwe after Harare asked the organisation to scale down its humanitarian projects and fund the ZANU PF government’s economic revival programmes.
ZANU PF’s economic revival blue print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset), which has been struggling to secure funding, stands to benefit if the UN obliges. Zim Asset aims to achieve 10 percent economic growth by 2018, which is the year Zimbabwe is expected to go for the next election. The government also claims that it wants to revive the dilapidated infrastructure, revive industry and pay off the country’s debts.
According to reports the government made its request during the annual meeting of the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework in Harare a fortnight ago.
A Mail & Guardian report said although the UN is willing to assist it is ‘concerned about cutting its aid provision’. But according to the same report the Deputy Secretary to the president and cabinet, Dr Ray Ndlukula, said the UN country team and the government have ‘agreed’ on the deal. In the same report, the UN’s communication specialist, Sirak Gebrehiwot, appears to confirm the development as he is quoted saying ‘objectives of the UN are informed by national priorities and internationally agreed goals’.
However, the news immediately provoked fury in some quarters. The National Association of Nongovernmental Organisations Chief Executive, Cephas Zinuwe, condemned the move by Harare as an ‘act of desperation’ and an indication that the government was ‘clearly broke’. Zinuwe urged the government to strengthen bilateral relations with China, Britain and the USA and to come up with innovative ways to attract funding instead of diverting donor funding.
In London the Zimbabwe Vigil expressed shock and outrage at the prospect of the Zimbabwean government obtaining direct funding from the UN. In a statement on Sunday the Vigil said to bail out the government would be akin to funding the ‘illegal regime’s pie in the sky development plan’.
The Vigil said the Mugabe regime should not have any say in how international aid to Zimbabwe is used because of ‘clear evidence of ZANU PF’s corruption, including the systematic theft of diamonds which should fund its economic plan’.
In a letter to the secretary for international development, Justine Greening, the Vigil urged the UK government to ‘step up’ its ‘surveillance’ to ensure that none of its aid is ‘diverted for Mugabe’s political purposes’.
Vigil coordinator Dennis Benton told SW Radio Africa that it was ‘unacceptable’ for the Mugabe regime to receive any form of funding when it was not open about the Chiadzwa diamond revenue. Benton said they have approached the UK government because some of its money destined for Zimbabwe’s poor is channeled through the UN agencies.