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Zim dims chances of donor support

Augustine Mukaro

ZIMBABWE’S prospects of getting donor support for its consolidated appeal is in jeopardy because of the controversy that has rocked the NGO sector.

“Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>A seemingly irreparable rift developed last week when government demanded that all NGOs account for monies they received from the donor community. Government alleges that about 37 NGOs operating in the country received US$88 million under the UNDP’s Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for humanitarian assistance.

At a meeting convened by the UNDP last Friday, it turned out that the majority of the listed NGOs had nothing to do with humanitarian assistance and were not recipients of CAP funds.

NGOs which received funds under CAP are now expected to present their accounts by April 11.

The development comes at a time when government is expected to send an appeal for assistance to the UNDP to avert a humanitarian crisis caused by poor harvests. UN officials said the request for agricultural-sector revival and food assistance constitutes over 50% of the country’s appeal to the donor community.

Zimbabwe has been rated as the most hunger-prone country in the Sadc region with an estimated six million in need of humanitarian assistance this year.

NGOs and donors who attended the Friday meeting said the appeal was likely to get a tepid reception from donors because of government’s spirited efforts to interfere with NGOs’ operations.

They said donors who are willing to help would channel funds directly to NGOs and not through the UNDP office. NGOs with running projects signed programme agreements with donors, some running up to 2007.

“Our budget system has no provisions for basket funding,” one of the donors who attended the meeting said. “We will continue supporting running projects with resources going through our implementing partners. However, CAP-specific projects could be considered from time to time.”

Japan, as one of the key donor countries, funded the World Food Programme and Unicef programmes to the tune of US$2 million over the past year. The programmes included school-children feeding and irrigation schemes.

In January last year, government approached the UNDP requesting renewal of the June 2003 CAP and to ask for more support.

The then resident representative Victor Angelo informed government that the donor community would only avail aid through NGOs already operating in the country. He reportedly submitted a list of NGOs that were going to benefit, giving a breakdown of the money they would receive.

Government now alleges the money could have been used to sponsor political activities instead of the intended humanitarian causes.

Last week government wrote to NGOs demanding that they account for their funds or risk prosecution and deregistration.

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