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Donors want to see progress on talks

Itai Dzamara

ZIMBABWE’S request for humanitarian assistance through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) faces resistance from the predominantly Western donor community due to lack of tangible pol

itical progress, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

A donors’ conference will be held in New York at the end of this month at which the UNDP’s Harare office faces the daunting task of convincing the donor community of political progress in Zimbabwe.

Diplomatic sources said Zimbabwe was still viewed in the donor community as a rogue state and was seen to be dragging its heels on political dialogue.

“Efforts towards reviving dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC have not yielded anything tangible so far, despite the so-called talks about talks,” said a diplomatic source.

Victor Angelo, the UNDP resident representative in Zimbabwe, has been arranging meetings between the government and donors’ representatives with the aim of making both sides understand the other’s needs as well as expectations.

“The resident representative has in the past weeks convened several meetings between the government and donors’ representatives to consider the appeal for humanitarian assistance as well as assess the situation,” said Annika Rosing, a UNDP official in Harare.

The meetings are understood to have culminated in the reversal by government of an earlier policy to have food aid only channelled through government structures.

Zimbabwe, with the world’s fastest shrinking economy, appealed for humanitarian assistance at the end of July. Harare has requested 600 000 tonnes of food aid, a large variety of medicines, as well as $885 billion for revival of the agricultural sector.

It is understood the local UNDP office has urged government to address the land reform issue and was given an assurance by President Mugabe that he would implement the recommendations of the Presidential Land Review Committee. The first step, as Mugabe has already indicated, would be recovering farms from government and Zanu PF officials who are multiple owners.

Another diplomatic source added that food and medical assistance could eventually be secured from donors who are keen not to punish the most vulnerable groups for their government’s “sins”. But it may not be on the scale needed.

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