Zimbabwe accuses USAID of meddling in its democratic process


In 2023, the US poured $289.2 million into Zimbabwe, with USAID taking the reins as the country’s largest donor globally. While the largest programmes focused on HIV/AIDS, food security, and other health issues, improved governance was one of USAID Zimbabwe’s three pillars outlined in the agency’s latest strategy.

USAID administrator Samantha Power said policymakers need to be able to detail the economic benefits of the political reforms they back.

In recent years, the US government has repeatedly highlighted corruption and human rights abuses across Zimbabwe, often placing government officials at the centre. After Zimbabwe’s last election, the State Department cited issues with transparency, credibility, and fairness, alleging the country’s electoral process did not meet international standards.

Today, Zimbabwe ranks 149 of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which assesses corruption in the public sector — with organisations such as Human Rights Watch reporting ongoing repression and human rights abuses for years.

“Governance and accountability challenges are at the heart of Zimbabwe’s decline over the last 20-plus years and a major contributor to the country’s vulnerability,” the strategy stated.

But it seems that Zimbabwe — or at least, Chifamba — is far from keen on those operations continuing, stating that assistance given to Zimbabwe should be responsive to the government’s needs. The ambassador claimed he had been trying to set up a meeting with USAID about its governance programme for the past 18 months, but to date, has not been able to do so.

Those claims were refuted by USAID, which said agency officials met with the ambassador last spring.

“If they want to help us, they have to come through the government,” said Chifamba. “They can’t just walk into Zimbabwe as if it’s part of America.”

Despite the back-and-forth, in Power’s Friday statement, the administrator said USAID will continue to “support civil society, human rights defenders, and independent media,” while at the same time, not hesitating to “take additional measures” to hold those in power accountable.

“The people of Zimbabwe deserve better,” said Power.


By Elissa Miolene for DEVEX


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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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