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ZIMBABWE: How to get donor funds to the needy - analysis

HARARE, 17 July 2009 (IRIN) - That Zimbabwe needs aid is a given - its battered population has experienced widespread food shortages, hyperinflation and a devastating cholera epidemic - but so far the stumbling block of trust in the institutions responsible for handling money has proved bigger than need.

The formation of a unity government in February 2009 between President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was welcomed by the country's major donors, the United States and the European Union, but did not lead to their lifting targeted sanctions against the ZANU-PF elite, or open the floodgates to billions of dollars in aid.

Analysts say donor community doubt in Mugabe's sincerity surfaced soon after the Global Political Agreement, which paved the way for the unity government, was signed in September 2008.

Within a few months, Mugabe re-appointed Gideon Gono as Governor of the Reserve Bank, despite protests from the MDC that this was in flagrant disregard of the agreement, which requires consensus on such appointments.

Gono was at the helm of the central bank when Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate ballooned to more than 200 million percent officially, while unofficially being estimated in the trillions of percent, but it was his admission of dipping into private accounts for foreign exchange that destroyed any credibility the governor might still have had with donors.

Turf wars

Since then a turf war has raged between the MDC and ZANU-PF over who would disseminate donor funding, with ZANU-PF alleging that the MDC would use funds to advance its interests ahead of an expected election in the next few years, and the MDC claiming that if money were channelled through Gono it would disappear into ZANU-PF coffers.

The unity government wants US$8 billion to kick start the once prosperous economy. Unemployment levels are estimated at 94 percent, while up until the April 2010 harvest seven million of Zimbabwe's 11 million population survived on emergency food aid.

To break the deadlock, the unity government created an Aid Coordination Policy (ACP) in the hope of reducing suspicions and providing a credible vehicle for donors to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, without any nagging doubts that the money might not reach the right people.

Agreement on the policy did not come easily - ZANU-PF cabinet members rejected it three times before coming on board - and is seen by analysts as one of the few compromises made by Mugabe's party. It is designed to evade party political rivalries, while ensuring transparency and consensus.

The aid policy falls under the ministry of finance, controlled by the MDC, but the co-opting of ministers from ZANU-PF to be party to decisions on the allocation of funds helped smooth the way, political commentator and businessman Paddington Japajapa told IRIN.

The ACP will see donor funds channelled to the Multi Donor Trust Fund and allocated by the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination (CCAC), as well as other subordinate support structures such as the Aid Technical Committee, the Government Development Forum and the Aid Coordinating Unit.

Tsvangirai chairs the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination, comprised of the two deputy prime ministers, Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe, and other MDC and ZANU-PF ministers.

The ministers for economic planning and investment, local government, public works, justice, national state security, finance, international cooperation, industry and commerce, and foreign affairs are also members of the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination. Decisions on the allocation of funds to ministries, departments or sectors will be by consensus.

Gorden Moyo, a minister of state in the prime minister's office and member of the CCAC, told IRIN that the committee would engage with the donor community in development planning, and help the government and the donor community align their activities to reduce duplication. Above all, accountability will be emphasized.

"With the creation of the new aid policy we are sending a very loud and clear message to the donor community that we now have in place a policy and an environment in which Zimbabwe is ready to receive money and spend it on the people," Moyo told IRIN.


Japajapa said the establishment of an aid coordination policy made sense, as the political parties were still haggling about the continued stay of the reserve bank governor.

"The aid policy has many positives, in the sense that while politicians are still fighting over outstanding issues, they have seen the importance of continued engagement with the donor community," he told IRIN.

"The ZANU-PF side has also been ready to compromise because they realize that donors want to channel their money through a credible institution; on the other hand, if the committee is able to work in harmony, then it may reduce suspicions among the politicians."

Ernest Mudzengi, another political commentator, believed the suspicions and lack of trust between the political parties were too deeply entrenched, and that bickering could hamstring the coordination aid policy.

"Since September 2008, when the Global Political Agreement was signed, very little has been agreed upon by the different political parties," he noted.

"They may all be represented in the Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination, but the culture of arguing and bickering is likely to go ahead among politicians, possibly to the detriment of the ordinary people, who still yearn for genuine, effective leadership."


Theme(s): (IRIN) Aid Policy, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Governance



Copyright © IRIN 2009
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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