Thursday, September 16, 2021

Covid-19 aid: US urges World Bank to closely monitor Zim

Upenyu Chaota

The United States government has
written to the World Bank (WB) calling for strict conditions to be attached to any Covid-19
relief funding for Zimbabwe in light of the country’s shoddy record in
administering such resources.

In a letter dated June 03 to
World Bank Group president David Malpass, chairperson of the foreign relations
committee in the US senate, James Risch says that strict accountability and
transparency measures are needed given Zimbabwe’s corruption record.

Citing the controversial command
agriculture programme as an example of government corruption, Risch says any
package mobilised for Zimbabwe must ‘incorporate independent Zimbabwean civil
society and community voices.’

“These are needed given the need
for significant reform of most state institutions in Zimbabwe, pervasive
corruption and impunity, and the demonstrated disinterest of the Government of
Zimbabwe in the wellbeing of its citizens,” reads part of the letter which was
copied to secretary of state Michael Pompeo and secretary of the treasury
Steven Mnuchin.

He claimed that the government had
a sordid history of abusing aid money for patronage and self-enrichment.

“This extraordinary crisis
requires an exceptional response, but it is important not to lose sight of the
historical behavior of countries like Zimbabwe where government has used, and
continues to use, state resources and international aid to suppress its
population and enrich the country’s ruling elite,” the letter reads.

The World Bank recently refused to extend, through regular funding channels, new assistance to such countries which are in arrears as Zimbabwe and Sudan, but availed US$5 million through a trust
fund called the Global Financing Facility.

An additional US$2 million was redirected
from the existing Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP), a displeasing development
for the US which feels that communities affected by Cyclone Idai need the money
more than anybody else.

“Finally, I am concerned that
some of the funds were redirected from the ZIRP’s Idai response. Areas affected
by Cyclone Idai, including Mutare and Chimanimani, still suffer total devastation
and significant need.

“We must continue to support
those communities as they rebuild, and it is my hope that the redirected funds
will continue to support communities affected by the cyclone. In fact, the
devastating conditions in which communities affected by Cyclone Idai live, make
them all the more vulnerable to coronavirus infection, acute food insecurity
and displacement,” further reads the letter.



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