Britain to focus on Zimbabwe to ensure free and fair elections


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Britain will work “intensively” to boost freer and fairer elections in 13 countries over the next four years with Zimbabwe as one of its primary targets, Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said this week.

If Zimbabwe complies it could get direct aid for development work. So far Britain has refused to give aid directly to the government claiming that the money could be used to prop President Robert Mugabe rather than develop the country.

“We have made it clear that if there is a proper route map towards freer and fairer elections in that country (Zimbabwe), we shall be able to engage much more directly in development work there,” Mitchell said.

In a statement released in both houses of the British parliament, the UK said it will close its aid programmes in at least 16 countries by 2016 and will focus on 27. These include Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa.

The UK said recent events in North Africa and the wider Middle East had demonstrated that it was critical that Britain increases its focus on helping countries to build open and responsive political systems, tackle the root causes of fragility and empower citizens to hold their governments to account.

“It is the best investment we can make to avoid violence and protect the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” the statement said.

British aid would now be focussed on tackling ill health and killer diseases in poor countries, with a particular effort on immunisation, malaria, maternal and newborn health, extending choice to women and girls over when and whether they have children; and polio eradication.

“We will do more to tackle malnutrition, which stunts children’s development and destroys their life chances; and do more to get children-particularly girls-into school.

“We will put wealth creation at the heart of our efforts, with far more emphasis on giving poor people property rights and encouraging investment and trade in the poorest countries.

“We will deal with the root causes of conflict and help to build more stable societies, as people who live amidst violence have no chance of lifting themselves out of poverty, and we will help the poorest who will be hit first and hardest by the effects of climate change-floods,” the statement said.

Britain also said it had reviewed how 43 international funds and organisations through which it spends its aid worked looking at the value for money offered.

Those providing “very good” value for money were the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Global Alliance, the Private Infrastructure Development Group and the Global Fund to fight Aids.

“We will increase funding to these organisations, because they have a proven track record of delivering excellent results for poor people. But of course there will always be room for improvement and we will still require strong commitments to continued reform and even better performance,” the statement said.

Those rated good or adequate included the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Funding to these organisations will be “accompanied by specific pressure from the UK for a series of reforms and improvements we expect to see in the coming years”.

The United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO), the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the Commonwealth Secretariat development programmes and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will be placed under special measures and will be required to improve their performance “as a matter of urgency”.

“These organisations offer poor value for money for UK aid but have a potentially critical niche development or humanitarian role which is not well covered elsewhere in the international system or contribute to broader  UK government objectives. We expect to see serious reforms and improvements in performance. We will take stock within two years and DfID’s core funding may be ceased if improvements are not made,” the statement said.

Britain said it had stopped funding to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), UN-Habitat, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction because they “performed poorly or failed to demonstrate relevance to Britain’s development objectives”.

This move will allow over £50 million of aid money to be redirected immediately to better performing agencies, the statement said.aaa

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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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