Exposing Charamba’s EU funding deception

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By Tamuka C Chirimambowa & Tinashe L Chimedza

In The Herald of March 1 2017, George Charamba, permanent secretary in the Information ministry and presidential spokesperson, went ballistic against the European Union (EU).

George Charamba
George Charamba

The Herald called it a “surprise” and Charamba specifically said that “the beast is in heat again”, that the “Westerners are back at their mischief” and that the EU wants to “foment instability in the labour market”.

We will leave the question of a labour market to be answered by the thousands of unemployed graduates capped by the “dear leader”.

As vigilant citizens, we decided to “dig deeper”. Our intrigue lay in the knowledge that the government had an agreement of co-operation with the EU signed amidst pomp and fanfare and that the money is over a five-year period and not directed to the 2018 elections.

Beyond this nervousness in the “palace”, displayed by the president’s spokesperson, it seems the government is really afraid of its own constitution that was overwhelmingly approved in 2013 by over 3 079 866 (94,49%) voters.

So we dug deeper because we wanted to make sure the EU head of delegation is not funding some unconstitutional insurrection somewhere. We also know that in policy and practice, the EU usually makes these documents available in the public domain. That is the essence of openness in a democracy, or what Amilcar Cabral would have said “hide nothing from the people”.

EU Agreement: Signed Willard Manungo (Treasury secretary)

The EU and goverment of Zimbabwe (GoZ) signed an agreement which is publicly available. Either the presidential spokesperson was not on the inside on this one or is just grandstanding.

Zimbabwe signed an agreement with the EU called the National Indicative Programme (2014-2020) “for co-operation between the European Union
and the Republic of Zimbabwe”. The agreement was signed between the European Commission represented by ambassador Philippe Van Damme as head of delegation and Zimbabwe, represented by William L Manungo, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance.

The agreement covers the sectoral allocation of €234 million to be spent in Zimbabwe. Find the agreement here: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/sites/devco/files/nip-zimbabwe-fed11-2014_en.pdf.

So, there we have it folks, the money that the presidential spokesperson is kicking up dust about as some “western machination” of an “imperial Europe” is part of a “co-operation” agreement signed by a permanent secretary of the Finance ministry.

Remember full well that Zimbabwe is a presidential system and it will be an act of self-deception to think that Manungo would have signed an agreement bearing hundreds of millions to Zimbabwe without the express authority of the dear leader. Remember when Didymus Mutasa was still head of the spooks, saying the dear leader “hears and sees all”.

What does the agreement say exactly? The EU agreement has more than €220 million being advanced to the government of Zimbabwe. According to the National Indicative programme, the allocation is as follows:

*€88m was allocated to health towards the protection of both women and men against health threats, develop the national health system and reduce inequalities in access to quality health services.

*€88m to support agriculture-based economic development, especially to “secure food security, create employment, increase the supply of raw material for industry and increase export earnings”.

*€45m to support government institutions so as to “foster good governance, accountability and transparency in order to contribute to Zimbabwe’s economic recovery, and to the consolidation of the democratic process, as well as to peace and stability”.

*€6m, an allocation for civil society so as to support civil society participation “in public policy formulation, transparency and accountability, service delivery, inclusive and sustainable growth, and conflict prevention and peace building within the framework of the Constitution and as contribution to the implementation of Zim Asset”.

The pie-chart above provides the graphic picture of the proportion allocated to Charamba’s government and what was allocated to civil society.

The government actually got the bulk of the money, at €234 million.

The government has always relied on defunding and underfunding constitutional institutions of accountability as a strategy to incapacitate them, hence their ineffectiveness. The new constitution established what are called Chapter 12 “institutions to support democracy”, like the electoral commission, gender commission, the human rights commission, media commission and the national peace and reconciliation commission.

These commissions have been underfunded to deliberately sabotage the consolidation of democracy.

The government elites know that an active civil society and Chapter 12 institutions will open up the political terrain to more scrutiny. The last time some digging was done, it was discovered that some public officials were cashing it in via PSMAS, siphoning an astonishing $90 000 of board allowances per person.

In some case $100 000 was allegedly advanced dubiously to the health minister while medical aid contributors could not get any services.

These hefty thieving figures are over 53 times Zimbabwe’s average GDP per capita. An ordinary civil servant would need between 12-15 years to earn that amount. Such is the hypocrisy that marks these so-called “nationalist revolutionaries”.

So the real “meat” of the story which sent Charamba to pen the bombastic statement is that EU allocated €6 million to “civil society groups”.

The government was well aware of these allocations for at least the last four years and the press statement was an attempt to harangue the public into believing that there is a “western conspiracy” being brewed.

The GoZ was allocated 97,7% of the EU funds, and if it behaves, more funds will be available through the EU investment bank.

Civil society was allocated a mere 2,26%; the rest was allocated to the “dear leader’s revolutionary government”.
But what is this money supposed to achieve? Specifically, the €6 million is allocated to capacitate local civil society, making sure the citizen can track public finances.

The “head of the story” is that the ruling elites do not want citizens probing public finances and asking embarrassing questions.

So after all the sound and rage against the EU, it turns out the GoZ was well aware that they are racking in millions from the EU.

It seems what these elites do not want is the vigilant citizen asking questions about those “mansions” of shame being built by the politically connected.

We truly hope some alert MPs can send a “please explain letter” to Charamba and copy it to Manungo to appear in the Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee. after all, we are a constitutional democracy.

We have to sleep with one eye open with this lot. After all, the late fiery sister Freedom Nyamubaya reminded us that “No gatecrashers at Heroes Acre please! You have to have been mafia to qualify”.

Tamuka C Chirimambowa & Tinashe L Chimedza are the co-founders of the Institute for Public Affairs in Zimbabwe. Contact: [email protected]