DFID’s dilemma over development aid to Zimbabwe

May 15, 2009 at 9:26 am Leave a comment

mugabe
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

By Lawrence Dunhill

With ZANU-PF continuing to violate the rule of law in Zimbabwe, the Department for International Development are in a dilemma about development aid.

Despite the emergence of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, hardliners within President Robert Mugabe’s party appear to be deterring Britain from providing much needed foreign aid.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ivan Lewis, told the Commons: “We know that forces still exist in the Government who do not embrace the reform agenda, and we need them to do that.

“There can be no slacking in the message about the importance of political and economic as well as human rights reform. We remain concerned that political prisoners have recently been returned to prison.”

MPs urged ministers to find ways to provide humanitarian aid despite the slow pace of reform.

Mr Lewis could not provide a definite answer but said fresh hope had come from a recent meeting with the new finance minister, as well as the continued optimism of Mr Tsvangirai.

“It is important to send a message of solidarity and support. There is constant engagement and dialogue with the Government of Zimbabwe.

“We are clear about the support that we stand ready to provide.”

Many schools in Zimbabwe have not opened this year. Teachers are demanding salaries in hard currency and poor Zimbabweans cannot go to schools that charge in US dollars.

Mr Lewis said: “That emphasises the importance of the Government’s rebuilding the education system, starting with paying teachers properly so that they turn up to teach the children of Zimbabwe.

“The good news is that, through UNICEF, we have ensured, that more than 100,000 orphans and vulnerable children remain in school. That would not have happened without UK investment.”

Mr Lewis also claimed Britain had provided food for 7m people in March who would not otherwise have been fed and that the cholera outbreak was now under control.

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