By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
20 February 2014
While Western governments have pumped billions of dollars into Zimbabwe in food, developmental and educational aid, this has not stopped the ruling ZANU PF government from continually lashing out at the so-called ‘imperialists.’
Over the last decade, financial help from EU countries and the US has ensured that no one in Zimbabwe has died as a result of hunger. A Twitter message from the US embassy in Harare on Wednesday said the country was the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe, contributing more than $1 billion since 2002.
It would also be a mismatch to try and make comparisons to the aid Zimbabwe gets from its Western ‘enemies’ compared to their Look East partners or African counterparts. While help from the West has benefited millions of Zimbabweans, cash from China has mostly benefited an elite few.
The Chinese money has been used to construct ‘vanity’ projects – a multi-million dollar shopping mall and a defence and intelligence college, institutions that benefit those in ZANU PF.
On Wednesday the same ZANU PF government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) jointly launched a $100 million food aid programme to benefit over 500,000 people in drought-prone areas throughout the country over the next five years.
US Ambassador Bruce Wharton said the programme underscored his country’s commitment to Zimbabwe, while acting Agriculture minister Ignatius Chombo said the programme would go a long way in improving the country’s nutritional status.
According to Global Humanitarian Assistance, Zimbabwe is one of the largest recipient of official humanitarian assistance. Last year, the United Nations also launched a worldwide appeal for humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.
Alain Noudehou, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Zimbabwe, said then that the fund would be aimed at addressing ongoing food shortages, waterborne disease outbreaks and issues affecting Zimbabweans deported from neighboring countries.
The country was a net exporter of food to the region until President Robert Mugabe embarked on his violent and chaotic land reform program that turned the country into a basket case.