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An ugly face that puts off suitors; Understanding the Zimbabwean Government and donor flight

By David Siampondo

“The $7M @WorldBank grant for *Zimbabwe reported today should come with strict transparency & accountability measures to ensure Zimbabweans receive services & support during *COVID19, and that these funds aren’t lost to ongoing mismanagement by the Zimbabwean govt”  U.S Senate Foreign Relations 06 May 2020 Tweet.

David Siampondo is a social scientist
David Siampondo is a social scientist

He who sleep with itchy butt wakes with smelly fingers, Confucius say. The Zimbabwean government tolerated corruption and pilferage for so long to a point it now identifies and sticks with it. Corruption is anathema to donor assistance and drives away good will.

This article seek to highlight why the Zimbabwean government will not attract and receive meaningful assistance in the form of donations from local and international donors or aid partners.

Notwithstanding adverse effects that may arise as a result of over reliance on donor community, it is imperative to acknowledge that the donor community can create a dependency syndrome which strangles and suffocates agency and innovation.

Many African nations are a case study to this dependency syndrome where every facet is donor controlled and dictated. However aid/development agencies play a vital role in the development of a country as it closes the gap governments fall short of.

Donor funds or aid comes with conditions, which many refer to as “strings attached”. It is from these conditions that most receiving governments come to loggerheads with development agencies or donors as they fail to comply. Zimbabwe is one such a country.

The Party-State conflation is one of major reasons why Zimbabwe will never receive in its coffers direct aid either in monetary value or other form from reputable entities.

The mantra ZANU PF is government and government decisions are to be done exclusively by ZANU PF has contributed to maladministration being experienced. There is a deliberate ploy to keep such a stupefying appearance of the indistinguishability of the state from the party. Zanu PF use this state – party fluidity to control and allocate resources with an aim to return power.

State resources are undeniably allocated on party lines and anyone who doesn’t support Zanu PF or the ruling party stands no chance to get government assistance. There are a number of case materials one can use to support the above assertion, for instance the Presidential Agricultural Inputs and lately Command Agriculture.

Under Robert Mugabe, before his ouster via a military coup in November 2017, inputs such as seeds and fertilizers were being allocated by party officials regardless of them being acquired through tax payers’ contributions.

The Presidential Scholarship that saw some students study in South Africa, China, Russia and other countries also required a beneficiary to have strong ZANU PF links despite the funding coming from the public purse. All these were put to monopolize power and in view of all such indications the donor community will not commit their resources to such.

One of the conditions that accompany donor funds is a call to transparency and accountability. These two conditions make it mandatory that there be a process for identifying a problem, its victims, its magnitude, estimate of anticipated expenditure broken down into units and a strong monitoring and evaluation process that is further bolstered by an efficient acquittal system.

Transparency further calls for involvement or everyone regardless of political creed. Ideally the department of social welfare should spearhead these programs and activities but the rot that characterises central government makes the department of social welfare not cut out for the purpose.

Partisan beneficiary selection is endemic in all government programs thereby dissuading aid organisations against channelling aid through government ministries and departments and rather use non-governmental organisations.

The government of Zimbabwe has lost credibility to a point where it could not even be trusted to distribute free condoms and distribution has to be done via PSI [Population Services International].

As the Masai proverb goes, he who is unable to dance says that the yard is stony, so says the Zimbabwean government about conditions put by aid agencies. The conditions are said to propagate a regime change agenda regardless of similar conditions being religiously followed elsewhere and yet their regimes remain intact.

The government of Zimbabwe cannot simply dance to the tune of transparency and accountability as it is a haven of thieves and pillagers. Zimbabwe ranks high on corruption and looting of public funds. Donors by their nature abhor governments or establishments that steal from their people.

The Zimbabwean government is the source of mismanagement and donors cannot walk into a rabbit hole with their eyes open. Mismanagement of donor funds and other aid agencies is clearly labelled in Zimbabwe, a case in point being the raid on NGO bank accounts by Gideon Gono the then Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor. Such a heist at central government is worrisome for all and sundry. No donor is prepared to have his or her money looted, mismanaged or misappropriated.

Another condition that itches the Zimbabwean government and that will probably ensure that it will never lay its hands on the donor money is the need to observe the rule of law and democracy. Zimbabwe has had two successive tin-pot dictators who happens to be the only presidents since independence.

Mugabe who was ousted in a military coup was a rabid murderer who cared less about human life especially of those opposed to his rule. He profusely fought with western countries over the same demands to observe rule of law and uphold democracy. The one who toppled him Emmerson Mnangagwa is also a despot with little political credibility for he is widely held to be illegitimate and lacks probity as stated by his predecessor when he was fired for incompetency.

He swims in self-delusions of grandeur and is involved in a fight against the call for rule or law and democracy. His stance and actions pertaining to rule of law and democracy is indicative of a prolonged period before his government receive any meaningful donor aid.

No donor will support a government which carries a genocide on its people worse if the help you are to give will be used to emaciate the very people you seek to assist.

The Zimbabwean government through its own admission falls short on human and civil rights. The country has a tainted record on extra-judicial killings both overt and covert. A number of human rights activists and opposition members have been abducted, tortured and killed.

Cases like Jestina Mukoko and others clearly explain why the government is viewed as a vampire state by many human rights organisations.

The disappearance without trace of individuals like Rashiwe Guzha, Patrick Nabanyana, Itai Dzamara and others who were later found dead and in decomposing state like Beta Chokururama who was a member of the MDC National Youth Assembly, Cain Nyevhe and Godfrey Kauzani paints a gory picture of the regime that scares away donors of repute.

Reckless and irresponsible actions by the government when responding to demonstrations is another avenue it crosses path with human rights groups. The government of Zimbabwe is trigger happy and cares little for the sanctity of life which is against universal conventions.

Cases of August 1 2018 and January 2019 where the government used live ammunition on unarmed peaceful demonstrators killing and maiming them depicts a dangerous establishment which by all measures should be disarmed and moved away from dangerous weapons.

The blockbuster word governing chances of the Zimbabwean government to receive direct funding from development agencies is reform. Reforms in the same measure are anathema to ZANU PF as they cannot reform themselves out of power. The ZANU PF government has done nothing for the country and its people for it to be confident of a majority vote following reforms.

The government rather has invested in state of the art repressive state apparatus at the expense of human services and will be content for a long time knowing that they control the coercive machinery. As the status quo persist, the cat and mouse relationship between the government and development agencies will be a permanent feature.

The next article will focus on reform and social cohesion.