By Bridget Mananavire
While Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa is going around the West with a begging bowl, to try and rescue Zimbabwe out of a monetary crisis, back home his boss President Robert Mugabe is singing an entirely different hymn biting the hand that is supposed to help his nation.
Mugabe and some of his lieutenants have been dishing out insults at the West at every opportunity especially in the wake of spontaneous demonstrations which they blame on Europe and America, never mind the poverty in Zimbabwe.
At every turn, Mugabe, who is known for his stinging vitriol, has taken every chance to lash out at foreign envoys in Harare, blaming them for supporting an uprising against his leadership.
Not surprisingly western countries have vowed to block any international monetary institution from funding his government, leaving people like Chinamasa lost.
Regardless, the rain of insults from Mugabe has not stopped the governments of Britain, America, France, and the European Union from pouring humanitarian aid into Zimbabwe.
As part of their engagements during the Lima conference, a platform which Zimbabwe used to coax for funds to pay off $7 billion of external debt, conditions were set.
Zimbabwe promised to uphold human rights and the rule of law, but according to the West, they are not satisfied.
Recent incidents of police brutality, arrests and attack of human rights activists have once again put Zimbabwe on the human rights abuse radar, with the western countries raising the red flag.
“No UK (United Kingdom) taxpayers’ money has been or will be used to fund the government of Zimbabwe. Any decision on future UK support for a multi-year IMF programme will be based on the considerations described above (rule of law and human rights situation in Zimbabwe),” British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing said in a statement.
But they are willing to help struggling Zimbabweans, as they support 360 000 vulnerable people with cash transfers following the El Niño-induced drought, help reduce maternal deaths and support the country’s education system.
“It means that we continue to invest in civil society programmes that aim to improve transparency, advocacy and human rights. It means that Zimbabwe remains one of the 30 UK Human Rights Priority Countries, where we monitor and report regularly on human rights abuses, and support programmes designed to make abuses less likely. And it means engaging in meaningful political dialogue with the incumbent government in order to encourage policy which is consistent with these goals.”
Recently, the USA announced a $54 million additional aid package to Zimbabwe for humanitarian assistance.
The new contribution of $54 million, according to its Harare embassy, brings the total American government funding for drought relief in Zimbabwe to over $100 million since June 2015.
“I think all serious people would know that’s not true,” USA ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas told the Daily News as he responded to accusations that America was behind the protests and violence that have rocked Harare recently.
“On Friday, President Obama just announced another $41 million dollars in aid to Zimbabwe. You can’t let name calling affect your ability to help people who are food insecure.”
UK on the other hand said it will stick to its manifesto commitment made in 2015 to stand up for human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
French ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse said despite the mudslinging he actually inspired Chinamasa’s business travel to Paris where he met with investors.
“This is absolutely ridiculous. I am here to bring French companies to invest in Zimbabwe and I have been doing that,” Delahousse told our sister paper the Daily News recently.
“I am the one who inspired…Chinamasa’s visit to Paris. How can I be fuelling riots? I deny the allegations in the strongest terms. Some people are losing control they had better work on the situation which is causing Zimbabweans to protest and address police brutality.
“I am here to help build relations with Zimbabwe and we are re-engaging. Those relations are built on friendship and trust. These silly accusations will not change anything. We will continue engaging to see the full normalisation of relations,” he said.
But if Mugabe succeeds in kicking out the western diplomats from Zimbabwe as he threatened then the troubled nation could lose out on millions of dollars in aid money.
Using their taxpayers’ money, the western countries have since independence (1980) been contributing towards humanitarian assistance to end poverty and in sectors of development, health, agriculture, governance human rights and many others.
Each year the United States pumps in $160 million through its various interaction funding projects, out of which $120 million goes to health and the rest is distributed for economic development programmes, humanitarian and governance issues.
The USA has provided over $2 billion in development assistance since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
Since 2009, America has provided over $500 million for humanitarian, food security, health, and democracy and governance assistance to Zimbabwe, according to statistics by the American government.
On the other hand the British government through the Department for International Development (DFID) in the financial year 2013/14 provided £106 million in aid to Zimbabwe. Daily News