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Zimbabwe Donors Set Oslo Meeting to Discuss Unity Gov't Progress, Funding Options

  • Gibbs Dube

The collective Western policy since the launch of the unity government in Harare has been to provide only humanitarian aid pending convincing reform as a condition for funding development or reconstruction

International donors led by the United States and Britain will meet in Oslo next week to review their stance on development aid to Zimbabwe.

The collective Western policy since the launch of the unity government in Harare has been to provide only humanitarian aid pending convincing reform as a condition for funding development or reconstruction.

Diplomatic sources said donors are not ready to modify that policy at present because the parties to the September 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing have not implemented it in full.

The United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Canada and Australia are members of the so-called Fishmongers Group which will assemble in the Norwegian capital to discuss Zimbabwe's unity government, debt relief and public finance, and the country's evolving indigenization program.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti told VOA that he has sent a message to the group making the case that increased funding is essential to the success of the transitional government.

Diplomatic sources report a U.S. proposal to fund only progressive ministries. But word of this has escalated tensions in the Harare government between the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on the one hand and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC formation of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on the other, rivals as well as partners of the Tsvangirai MDC wing.

Harare political analyst Charles Mangongera told reporter Blessing Zulu that the political progress in Harare has not been sufficient to convince the Western donors to modify their Zimbabwe funding stance.

Elsewhere, Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has fired a broadside at foreign banks operating in Zimbabwe, saying that if they are not willing to provide working capital to businesses they should leave the country.

Kasukuwere has been touring the country with other ZANU-PF ministers talking up indigenization. He blames the banks for failing to rescue business which have collapsed or have been laying off workers to survive. He is said to have warned banks to start funding business to avoid a repeat of the chaotic land reform program.

But former Affirmative Action Group president Matson Hlalo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that Kasukuwere should not blame foreign-owned banks for the economic crunch hitting Zimbabwean businesses.

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