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Development partners shut purses



ZIMBABWE’S re-engagement efforts are reaping more rhetoric than real progress on tjr ground, with the 2024 National Budget showing a decline in support from international development partners.


The government is projected to receive US$638 million in 2024, down from US$790 million disbursed in 2022, official statistics show.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive, touted as one of his flagship policy initiatives after the late long-time leader Robert Mugabe was toppled by a military coup in 2017, has been reduced to tatters as the reforms façade has crumbled in the face of growing international pressure.

The country has been largely relying on developmental partners in crucial sectors such as health, education and other social services which have been undergoing serious decay.

Indications from the 2024 budget statement presented by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube show that the country is expected to receive US$638 077 877 from development partners, with the largest sum expected to be injected into the health sector.

The health sector is expected to receive US$435 962 003, while agriculture and education are set to receive US$60 127 234 and US$24 962 693 respectively.

“The sector is also expected to benefit from Development Partners’ assistance projected at US$436 million in 2024 to continue supporting maternal, newborn, child adolescent and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria prevention programmes, and strengthening of the health delivery systems.

“The country was allocated approximately US$500 million under the Global Fund grant cycle 7 (2024 -2026) with US$147.6 million set to be disbursed in 2024.”

The projected amount is however less than the projections for 2021 and 2020, in which the government projected support from development partners at US$677 million and US$841.5 million respectively.

In 2022, despite the tenuous relations between Zimbabwe and many of the Western governments, a total of US$789 999 004 was committed by development partners.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu told The NewsHawks that the decline in funding from developmental partners shows that the country is paying the price for the government’s failure to implement crucial reforms.

“It is an indication that Mnangagwa’s re-engagement process is up in smoke. There is increased frustration by the international community on Zimbabwe’s political chaos. This election, the August 23 election, was supposed to redefine relations either for the good or for the worst and, unfortunately, the Zanu PF government has put Zimbabwe in peril,” Mukundu said.

“So, the international community is now looking at Zimbabwe as a basket case. It is looking at Zimbabwe as a humanitarian case. What we may then see is a response to the drought with food assistance, and not so much in terms of governance or improving state institutions, because the state institutions and the whole governance structure in Zimbabwe has collapsed and is now dysfunctional.

“We look at how the judiciary has been captured, making unreasonable rulings on the political contest within the opposition. We are looking at how opposition supporters are abducted during the day, beaten up, tortured and some killed. We are looking at the blundering by the government, by appointing the defence chief as a member of the politburo and reversing the decision after a few days.”

Mukundu says President Mnangagwa has been continually squandering international goodwill.

“So, there is a fallout and an unhappiness between Zimbabwe and the international community, which devalues our image in the international community. Investors look at the overall context of a country and when they see that the international community has no confidence in that, then no-one is willing to put money in a country where anything can happen,” he said.

The deterioration of relations between Zimbabwe and development partners got amplified following the disputed general elections, after the European Union (EU) pulled its US$5 million funding to the ZIM-ECO 2 project over murky democratic processes.

The EU had been funding the ZIM-ECO 2 project to enhance the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s capacity to conduct the electoral process, with the aim of contributing to the improvement of the entire electoral cycle, not limited to elections alone.

“The project supporting Zec, which is managed by UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] and scheduled to run until December 2024, is currently under scrutiny due to concerns raised by several international Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) regarding the independence and transparency of Zec during the 2023 harmonised elections,” the EU said in a statement after the elections.

“The recent preliminary statements from multiple EOMs, including the EU EOM, have raised concerns about Zec’s management of the electoral process, particularly regarding its independence and transparency.

“The EU contributes together with other donors to a UNDP-managed project aiming at enhancing Zec’s institutional and technical capabilities to fulfil its constitutional mandate. In response to these concerns and in adherence to responsible management of EU development cooperation funds, the EU has initiated a procedure to suspend its contribution to this project.” 

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