â€œYou can see that there (has been) no, or very little, change in the democracy situation in the country despite the civil society having been well resourced financially,â€ a diplomat who heads one of the western donor organisations in the country told NewZimbabwe.com in Harare this week.
After the West imposed sanctions to punish President Robert Mugabe for electoral fraud and gross human rights abuses nearly 15 years ago, western donors also increased funding for pro-democracy groups to help upscale pressure on the Zanu PF strongman.
The NGOs also benefitted from a decision by the donors to stop directing humanitarian assistance to the country through the Mugabe government, opting instead to work with the non-State sector.
Among other things, the NGOs secured funding for programmes that included civic education, which Mugabe condemned as part of a wider regime change agenda.
But 15 years later and millions spent, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party remain firmly entrenched in power and western donors are not best pleased.
â€œIf you take a closer look and analyse what happened in 2013 – the results of the election – and juxtapose it with the level of engagement and the number of NGOs who were educating citizens on democracy andÂ the right to vote, you will agree with me that civic education contributed nothing to the situation,â€ said the diplomat we spoke to, asking not to be named for professional reasons.
The envoy also lamented the â€œrampant in the civil societyâ€, saying graft had contributed â€œimmenselyâ€ to derailing the pro-democracy agenda.
â€œCorruption is everywhere in Zimbabwe, including the civil society, although not as rampant as it is in the public sector. There are some NGOs which we also found wanting in this respect,â€ the diplomat.
â€œAs a way forward, there is now a new funding mechanism under a programme called Transparency, Responsiveness and Citizen Engagement (TRACE), which is very different from the previous one.
â€œUnder this (new) mechanism, we are looking at corporate governance structures of individual organisations which we will be funding to make sure that the funds are (not abused).
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