UK aid delivers in Zimbabwe

26 March 2010

UK aid has helped deliver progress in Zimbabwe since the Government of National Unity was established a year ago

In a report published by the International Development Select Committee, the report states that governance, human rights and provision of basic services are still falling well below the needs of the people.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) is a leading donor in Zimbabwe. It allocated £60 million for humanitarian and development assistance in the country in 2009-10.

The Report says that UK support has been effective in reaching poor and vulnerable people. UK aid should continue, given the scale of ongoing need, and should be increased in the sectors where it is making the greatest impact. To date aid has been channelled through non-governmental organisations and multilateral agencies.

This should continue to be the way UK assistance is delivered, with DFID also supporting pro-poor elements of the Inclusive Government’s own policies, where this is appropriate.

Emergency aid is making a difference but it cannot be turned into sustained development support without a long-term political settlement. The report condemns the electoral manipulation, abuse of state power, land seizures, and violence against political opponents and civil society which President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF have inflicted on the country for many years.

The Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce, said:

"We welcome the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which, although far from perfect, created the basis for formation of the Government of National Unity. However, violence and intimidation, bad government and destruction of the economy have forced millions of people to leave Zimbabwe.

"Many others have been displaced from their homes and are now refugees in their own country. There have been welcome signs of economic recovery under the Inclusive Government. Nevertheless, the political situation remains fragile. Until free and fair elections can take place, without intimidation and violence, progress will be limited and could be halted or reversed at any time."

The report concludes that the international community’s longer-term focus should be on strengthening the capacity of the Government of National Unity so that it is better placed to determine its own development priorities and to deliver them.

The Chair said:

"The Inclusive Government needs to move to a position where it can meet the needs of the Zimbabwean people. All elements within the Government must demonstrate that their main aim is to ensure people receive basic services like health and education and are allowed to earn a living. The continuing political violence and harassment is not compatible with this.

"The Global Political Agreement must be fully implemented and all parties must be allowed to function without intimidation. We also believe that progress on human rights and democracy must be demonstrated before all the EU’s restrictive measures placed on named individuals and organisations in Zimbabwe can be lifted."

The collapse of the economy led to a humanitarian crisis. Although the situation has improved, two million people are estimated to require food aid this year. DFID has provided vital humanitarian assistance and this will continue to be necessary for the next few years.

However, the report recommends that DFID should work towards a transition to longer-term development assistance, as conditions improve. It commends DFID for its Protracted Relief Programme, which has both met the immediate needs of millions of people, and helped them to rebuild their livelihoods.

Many skilled workers, particularly health workers and teachers, were driven from the country by political violence and the collapse of the economy. This left the health and education systems near collapse.

The Chair said:

"The challenges in the health sector are clear. Life expectancy rates in Zimbabwe are amongst the lowest in the world. Maternal and child mortality rates are particularly worrying. HIV/AIDS kills 62,000 people a year and has left one in four children as orphans.

"Continued donor support is needed to restore Zimbabwe's health services to the capability and capacity they had 20 years ago, when they were amongst the best in Africa. This is also true of education where a lack of teachers has resulted in a sharp decline in the number of children who are in school and the quality of provision they receive."

The report highlights that Zimbabwe’s recovery will not only benefit its own people but neighbouring countries and the wider international community. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the South African President are central to progress towards political stability and continued economic recovery in Zimbabwe.

The Chair said:

"SADC has a key role to play in supporting Zimbabwe’s recovery. We are disappointed that Zimbabwe has defied the SADC Tribunal ruling on land seizures. Farm invasions have had a devastating impact, both on individual farm-owners and workers and on the agricultural economy, and they must stop.

"The terrible human rights abuses which have taken place as part of land seizures are completely unacceptable. Zimbabwe should recognise the authority of SADC. The lack of enforcement mechanisms for the SADC ruling should also be addressed."

Image: iStockphoto

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