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EU Resumes Direct Aid to Zimbabwe With $270 Million Package

FILE: Zimbabwe's ruling party Zanu PF war veterans march past the U.S Embassy holding placards condemning sanctions against their government in Harare, Zimbabwe, Apr 23, 2010 (file photo)

The European Union (EU) on Monday provided development assistance to Zimbabwe amounting to $270 million marking the resumption of cooperation between Brussels and Harare following the imposition of restrictive measures on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle over a decade ago.

The EU and the government of Zimbabwe signed the National Indicative Programme, a joint cooperation strategy between Harare and Brussels, that will be funded by the 11th European Development Fund between 2014 and 2020.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Harare, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Phillipe van Damme, said he hoped that the resources would be put to good use, adding that he expects Harare to institute some democratic reforms.

However, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the EU should immediately lift sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, imposed in 2002 for alleged election rigging and human rights violations to ensure that there was better cooperation between Harare and Brussels. Names of most senior officials of Mr. Mugabe's administration were struck off the sanctions list by the EU last November but only the president and his wife remained.

Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi, director of the Media Centre, told VOA Studio 7 that the restrictive measures were not serving any purpose towards the revival of the country's economy.

At the same time, Willard Manungo, permanent secretary in the finance ministry, who is also the authorization officer of the joint strategy signed Monday, said the development assistance provided by the EU will be channeled towards agriculture and health sectors as well as strengthening governance institution in order to strengthen the rule of law through institutional capacity building.

The EU said under this agreement, 6 million Euros was set aside for civil society and the money will be channeled through government.

But Terry Mutsvanga, director of the Coalition Against Corruption, said he fears that some of this money will not reach the non-governmental organizations.

The decision by the EU to channel the funds through treasury also comes at a time when a number of local civil society organizations are being investigated by the Washington administration for misuse of funds allocated to them for their work in Zimbabwe.

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