Britain checking how its aid to Zimbabwe is used


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Britain’s Minister of International Development Andrew Mitchell says although British aid to Zimbabwe is not channelled through the government but through “trusted partners” like the United Nations Children’s Fund, his officials have regular contact with Zimbabwean ministers and senior officials to ensure the best possible coherence with plans of the Zimbabwe government.

Britain this year increased its aid to Zimbabwe to $110 million and is expected to increase this to $130 million next year and further on to $150 million. The aid is however not going through the government because the British fear it might be misused.

The British attitude is an indictment that though the Movement for Democratic Change controls the key economic ministries including that of Finance which would be in charge of the aid, they believe that President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front actually run the government.

Mitchell says he personally held discussions with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, and Education Minister David Coltart as Britain developed its plan for the programme to Zimbabwe. 

Former British ambassador to Zimbabwe Mark Canning said the increased aid would enhance food security for an additional 500000 citizens; support 420 000 children to complete five years of primary school; generate jobs for 125 000 people (two thirds of whom will be women) and help supply one million people with right to use hygienic drinking water.

Aid critics have argued that bypassing the government and channelling aid through non-governmental organisations weakened the government. The critics have also argued that aid does not work in Africa but creates laziness and corruption instead.

Zambian-born economist and aid critic Dambisa Moyo says, aid, under whatever guise, does not work.

“The problem is that aid is not benign- it’s malignant,” she says in her book: Dead Aid. “No longer part of the potential solution, it’s part of the problem- in fact aid is the problem.”

She says Botswana, one of Africa’s economic success stories, has largely prospered after it ceased depending on aid.

Zimbabwe itself has recorded positive growth over the past two years though the government is not receiving any official aid.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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