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Tendai Mugabe, Harare Bureau
WESTERN Governments have escalated machinations to influence next year’s harmonised elections by funding ‘dubious’ opposition projects and fomenting instability in the country using civil society organisations.
This comes in the wake of a surprise donation of US$5 million to the civil society by the European Union ostensibly to strengthen democratic participation and accountable monitoring by non-governmental organisations in Zimbabwe.
Government yesterday said that it was following the events with interest. The donation was announced by the EU embassy in Harare in a statement on Monday.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mr George Charamba, yesterday said Government was on the lookout for all nefarious and underhand machinations by the West ahead of the polls.
Said Mr Charamba: “The beast is in heat again. We are slowly inching towards elections and the Westerners are back with their mischief except they don’t know we are watching. We are also aware of their involvement in other areas including fomenting instability in the labour market.”
Political analyst Mr Godwine Mureriwa said the Western funding was aimed at aiding the opposition campaign especially in rural areas where they were perennial dismal performers.
“The timing of the funding is perfect for the opposition,” said Mr Mureriwa.
“The funding is being used as a basis for uniting opposition parties to form a coalition and this is why you see both (Morgan) Tsvangirai and (Joice) Mujuru were making desperate overtures to come together despite their organic ideological differences. Given their deep rooted interests in Zimbabwe’s political affairs, the EU also wants to have a formidable force outside the opposition structures to do the campaign especially in rural constituencies.
“They (EU) have elections in my mind and the civil society is just being used as a smokescreen to shield the real political agenda.”
In their statement the EU said: “The European Union in Zimbabwe has strengthened its support to civil society with a fresh call for proposals to promote democratic participation, good governance and accountability as well as dialogue amongst the different stakeholders in the country.
“In total, the EU provides 5 million EUR (5 315 000 USD) for proposals that address one of the two specific objectives.”
The first component is directed at Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that seek to enhance the role of civil society in the promotion of transparency, good governance and accountability to meaningfully participate in policy dialogue. CSOs that furthermore address gender equality and the rights of marginalised groups are particularly encouraged to apply.
“For this component, the EU provides EUR 3.5 million (3 720 500 USD). The second specific objective for which proposals are invited is to strengthen civil society’s watchdog role in the implementation of the National Indicative Programme (NIP) focal sectors of governance and institution building, health and agriculture-based economic development for improved, accountable and effective development outcomes as well as sustainability. For this objective, the EU provides EUR 1.5 million (1,594,500 USD).”
The EU embassy in Harare had not responded to questions sent to it. An embassy official who spoke to this publication said he would only respond today.
Since 2000, Western governments have been funding opposition campaigns through non-governmental organisations. It is unfortunate that the funding has not yielded the desired results. The electorate is alive to what the local opposition stood for and beyond that much of the donor fund was used to fatten pockets of a few activists.
After the 2013 harmonised elections, the United States government admitted that donor funds were abused in Zimbabwe and withdrew most of its funding thereby plunging most opposition leaders into destitution.