Sweden has strenuously denied Zimbabwean government allegations that it intends to fund the opposition out of its bilateral aid budget. "It is totally, totally untrue," the Swedish ambassador in Harare, Lennarth Hjelmaker, told IRIN on Thursday. "Sweden does not at all finance the opposition or opposition parties."
A Swedish government statement said that Stockholm was preparing to make a 45 percent cut in aid to Zimbabwe, which would virtually halt development cooperation with the government. But, "where possible, cooperation aimed at promoting the development of democratic societies and respect for human rights via Zimbabwean, Swedish and independent international organisations will continue. Sweden will also continue to extend support to projects aimed at combating the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemics," the statement explained.
Stockholm's decision was made in the light of "the serious deterioration which has taken place in the spheres of human rights and economic policy in Zimbabwe," the statement added. "Sweden is prepared for the resumption of cooperation as soon as the situation improves. Meanwhile, Sweden and other, mainly EU, countries will continue to maintain a dialogue with the Zimbabwean government, opposition parties and representatives of civil society in the country."
On Tuesday, PANA reported Zimbabwe Finance Minister Stan Mudenge as alleging that Sweden was preparing to reallocate 45 percent of its US $12.7 million annual aid budget to the opposition, to help it prepare for presidential elections in 2002.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions