Zimbabwe to get $100m support from Britain
By Violet Gonda
24 June 2009
The United Kingdom government announced on Wednesday that it will be giving a total of $100million (£60m) to Zimbabwe, in humanitarian support in 2009 and 2010. The announcement was made by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he pledged an additional $8 million (£5m) for food security and educational textbooks, during a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday.
The UK’s International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, said: "Our £60 million package will provide support directly to Zimbabwe's poorest people. Our assistance has already helped one million people in Zimbabwe get access to clean water and has enabled two million to grow more food, as well as helping get the worst cholera outbreak in the country's history under control."
"The new inclusive Zimbabwean Government presents a real opportunity to help the Zimbabwean people and to support economic, political and social reform. We stand ready to provide more support should we see further progress towards reform." The UK said the funds will be channelled through non-governmental organisations and the United Nations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tsvangirai winds up his three week long re-engagement and fundraising tour in western countries this week, with a final visit to France. The Prime Minister has reportedly raised $150million, mostly in humanitarian aid, but this is much less that the more than $8 billion the coalition needs to rebuild the country, over a five year period.
Furthermore, western governments have insisted that aid pledges will go through specific NGO projects and not directly to the government. They say full developmental aid will only be given when the Zimbabwean government shows proper democratic reforms. Most of the promised aid will be in the form of humanitarian assistance in areas of health and education.
Economists such as Tony Hawkins say the aid pledges provide little comfort for the government, which faces a growing financing problem. He says frustrated civil servants are demanding a return to “proper salaries” to replace the existing $100 a month allowance being paid to all public servants. “These allowances absorb almost a third of projected revenue of $880m. In May, revenue was estimated at $60m and it is estimated that by the end of this month the Treasury will have raised less than 35 per cent of its revenue target for the whole year.”
Hawkins says the situation is exacerbated by wage awards in the private sector, where workers are being paid more than double their public service counterparts.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai told reporters in London this week that the money pledged so far is sufficient to support basic services like health, education and food production. He said there have been significant changes in Zimbabwe since the formation of the unity government in February, adding: "As a society, we were near death, and we have come back to life."