HomePoliticsNo aid before political deal

No aid before political deal

Itai Dzamara/Vincent Kahiya

THE United Nations Development Programme is anxious to see a political settlement between Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change in order to persuade donors to contribute

the vast sums that are needed for recovery ef forts.

The Zimbabwe Independent this week heard that the UNDP will next month present Zimbabwe’s case for humanitarian assistance to an international donors conference in New York.

Western diplomats this week said traditional donors would only come to Zimbabwe’s assistance if there was a settlement on the political front.

“There will be no relief from donors or multilateral lenders until there is evidence of political consensus in the country,” a senior diplomat told the Independent.

Bernard Mokam, the UNDP act-ing resident representative, confirmed on Wednesday that the meeting would be held to consider requests from countries, including Zimbabwe, for humanitarian assistance.

“Indeed, we are planning a donors conference, provisionally set for September 15 but still subject to revision,” said Mokam.

“The purpose is to present appeals to the international community based on the requests made by governments in the region for humanitarian assistance.”

The UNDP’s intervention, diplomatic sources said, was crucial in mobilising international support to alleviate Zimbabwe’s crisis. Last month United States Secretary of State Colin Powell said his country was working with the United Nations and other partners to clear the country’s political logjam.

Diplomatic sources said the donor community would seek “tangible evidence” of progress in talks on Zimbabwe’s crisis before committing themselves to providing support to the country which is experiencing economic meltdown.

Harare has already requested 600 000 tonnes of food aid, a large variety of medicines, as well as $885 billion for the revival of the agricultural sector from the donor community as immediate needs.

The UNDP, sources said, was keen to convince international financiers that more funds would be required to rebuild the country during its transition to democracy. The UNDP still hopes it can secure Western donor support for another land conference after the failure of the 1998 Harare meeting. But this all depends on the prevailing political situation.

Sources this week said UNDP/government relations had to improve for co-operation to take place. The government has used the state media to make veiled attacks on the UNDP. The UNDP was recently accused of aiding white commercial farmers’ relocation to neighbouring countries instead of mobilising funds to support the land reform exercise.

Asked about the UNDP’s role in finding a settlement in Zimbabwe, Mokam admitted that the international community was worried by the situation in the country and wanted it solved.

“I agree that the crisis is a cause for concern. However, our primary objective is to deal with the humanitarian situation,” he said.

“Of course, a forum to discuss the political side is on. Political processes and dialogue are taking place. The (political) initiatives that are underway need and indeed have our full support,” he said

The UNDP itself has started local efforts aimed at bringing the political contenders into resolving the current standoff, albeit at a primary level.

Last week the UNDP organised a workshop in Kariba for Zanu PF and MDC MPs on conflict resolution and negotiating through dialogue.

Delegates who attended the workshop disclosed that the focus was on the Zimbabwean crisis.

“We covered all concepts of conflict resolution specifically focusing on the Zimbabwean crisis,” one delegate said. “Much emphasis was put on the need for political parties to compromise on positions and differences for the sake of an amicable settlement that would make the country accepted by the international community.”

Mokam confirmed the workshop took place but insisted that it was merely “a capacity building project”.

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