WE welcome the announcement by the United Nations Development Programme that helped clarify the relationship between Government and development partners like UN agencies, which relationship should be grounded in mutual trust and confidence. Our country became a UN member state on August 25, 1980, and it is in this context that the relationship should be viewed; these agencies work in partnership with Government.
This is important to emphasise because a misconception had been created, that made it look like these organisations are in Zimbabwe at the behest of opposition political parties, and that the latter are their major partners, and not the Government of the day.
We also want to say that nothing the agencies do or say is cast in stone, since the Government is the ultimate authority.
If people believe that this is unique to Zimbabwe, they should check what happened in the United States of America’ state of Texas in 2012 when Americans went to the polls. Although former president Barack Obama was not opposed to having UN-linked election monitors, the Texas Attorney-General threatened the monitors with potential prosecution.
As one newspaper reported: “Among the most serious concerns was the fact that the UN partner organisation (OSCE) was ‘working with discredited far-left radical groups’ to supposedly seek out conservative ‘voter suppression’ schemes.”
Thus the questions we raised were not new to the UNDP, and we feel vindicated in particular for challenging the murky issues regarding the acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits, a situation that opposition political parties wanted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to do, and was blown out of proportion by the private media.
Although Zimbabwe has worked with different UN bodies, the UNDP included, what raised eyebrows was when it seemed as though there was an electoral system capture taking place before our very eyes.
What was more surprising was that the UN agency was being accused of a more sinister motive; to push the Government of Zimbabwe to dump ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, so that the UNDP would commandeer the electoral process.
It was therefore important to get answers to these issues, to enable the ongoing process of preparing for free and fair elections in 2018, with few impediments.
The clarification made by the UNDP Resident Coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli last week when he met Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda that his agency supports procurement of BVR kits by the Government put paid to the confusion that had surrounded the voter registration equipment acquisition.
While this showed that the UN agency was reading from the same page with Government, it however created a hue and cry in opposition circles.
This in itself is an indicator of how they might have fared in the past; being partisan and/or apolitical?
Even the private media claimed the UN agency had “ditched” the opposition and dealt it a “heavy blow”.
Mr Parajuli was quite clear and within the parameters of what is hoped of UN agencies when he said: “There should be no question on who is doing what now or later because we always agree with Government . . . On the issue of BVR, you know we work on request from Government and all the UN programmes are joint programmes between Government and the UN and Government always has the priority.
“We will do this and we will do that and we respect and actually we commend the Government for coming forward with resources. I think this is wonderful and that is key for sustainability and so, in fact, we very much welcome that.”
Despite this lucidity from UNDP, countries like Britain are fuming about the position that Government will procure the BVR equipment as if they are stakeholders in our domestic processes.
We know that they will continue to stoke the fires, but to what end? It will not change what is on the ground now.
We won the right to self-determination 36 years ago, 37 years come April 18.