Aid cuts threaten future of civic organisations

THE future of Zimbabwe’s civil society organisations is set for a major squeeze as the European Union (EU) shifts its aid policy towards Zimbabwe because of the Eurozone crisis which has resulted in the bloc slashing more than half a billion euros off international aid budgets.

Report by Tendai Marima
The EU recently announced resumption of direct aid to government and lifting of targeted sanctions after a 10-year freeze.

 
The EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 and increased aid to civil society organisations with the Southern African Trust noting that funding sharply increased from US$270 000 to US$17,65 million between 2000 and 2004 because of the political situation.

 
EU aid to Zimbabwe currently stands at about US$120 million annually and has been mainly distributed through international NGOs, but the recent re-engagement of the government by the bloc would see aid money going directly to government.

 
Acting EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Carl Skau said on Wednesday the EU is currently in discussions with government to decide which projects would be funded from 2014.

 
“The EU suspended appropriate measures end of July and we now have the opportunity to directly support government,” said Skau. “We are now engaging with the government to identify what the priorities are for that which will be significant considering the needs of Zimbabwe.”

 
However, McDonald Lewanika, director of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an amalgamation of more than 350 local NGOs, was confident civil society groups would survive the EU policy shift.

 
“It’s almost a given that there’s going to be an impact on civil society organisations in the normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the EU,” said Lewanika.

 
“It’s not a simplistic cause-and-effect scenario where civil society organisations are going to collapse because the EU is providing direct aid. Some groups will not be affected.”

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