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Passing around the hat

Morgan Tsvangirai
(South African DFA)

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has won US$73 million in aid from the United States on the first leg of an international tour aimed at drumming up financial support for his beleaguered government, and will try to persuade European donors to dig deeper into their pockets.

After a meeting with Tsvangirai on 12 June in the White House, US President Barrack Obama said Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government "shows promise, and we want to do everything we can to encourage the kinds of improvement, not only on human rights and rule of law, freedom of the press and democracy, that are so necessary, but also on the economic front."

However, while saluting Tsvangirai and the efforts of his four-month-old administration in controlling hyperinflation, Obama said US aid money would not be channelled through the government, "because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law".

Tsvangirai is due in London this week, where he is expected to similarly champion the need for Western assistance to shore up the economy and revive social services after close to a decade of crisis.

But with the influence of President Robert Mugabe seemingly undimmed within the all-party government, and elections due in 18 months' time, donors are likely to hold off committing to the estimated $10 billion required to rebuild the country, analysts predict.


"There are two key problems," economist Tony Hawkins told IRIN. "The impression is that the power-sharing government is in office but not really in power, so there is the question of who really is in control and frustrating real change.

"The second issue is more technical: Tsvangirai is running around the world passing around the hat for money, but there is no real strategic programme and [development] package [to fund], which is what the donors need."

Zimbabwe's deep humanitarian crisis has been punctuated by elections won by Mugabe against Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which were marred by violence and widely condemned as unfair. A power-sharing government, urged by regional leaders to break the deadlock, was finally inaugurated in February 2009, but Mugabe is accused of failing to fully live up to the terms of the agreement.

On 1 June the humanitarian community increased its donor appeal for Zimbabwe by 30 percent to $719 million, to take into account the need to combat a cholera epidemic and a spike in food insecurity.

The appeal document noted that six million people – over half the population - had limited or no access to safe water and sanitation; 1.5 million children required support to access education; 800,000 people were in need of food aid, and 44,000 children younger than five years needed treatment for severe acute malnutrition.



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:

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