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EU resumes financial aid to Zimbabwe

Mugabe's assets freeze and travel ban to stay in place.

Alyn Smith, SNP member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee has given a cautious welcome to the EU’s decision to resume aid to Zimbabwe, following a decade of sanctions imposed due to reports of gross human rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe and his administration.

The €234 million aid package unveiled in the country’s capital Harare will fund health care, agriculture and good governance projects over the next six years, but there are ongoing concerns over effective control of distribution and the utilisation of the EU funds.

Alyn said:

“The aid package marks an important step in EU-Zimbabwean relations but while Zimbabwe have shown signs of progress we must remain cautious. Despite sanctions, the EU remained a major donor to Zimbabwe and channelled funds through NGOs and multi-lateral agencies giving us reassurance that the funds were reaching people in need while bypassing the treasury.

“The resumption of aid is a way of encouraging further political change in Zimbabwe while retaining some leverage over Mugabe to pursue reforms but we must take all steps to ensure these funds remain out of the hands of the corrupt regime.

“With the widespread corruption and the lack of mechanisms to manage aid on the governmental level the fears over effective distribution of the aid are not unfounded. Despite its wealth of natural resources that could support job creation and increased exports, Zimbabwe faces huge economic, social and political barriers.

 “Mugabe has been president of Zimbabwe since 1987 and the once-prosperous country has struggled since his administration began seizing white-owned farms in 2000. International human rights organisations have long denounced Mugabe's policies and despite resuming aid for Zimbabwe, the president and his wife’s assets remain frozen, the travel ban is still in place and there has been no discussion on the arms embargo.”