Corruption fears as UN funds to be channeled through the RBZ

There are understandable concerns that internal corruption at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will see desperately needed foreign monetary aid being diverted into different channels - this as a cash boost of millions of US dollars by the United Nations could soon be filtered through the central bank.


The Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, administered by the UN and funded by Britain, America and other influential world powers has agreed in principle to Zimbabwe’s request for help. It’s understood the government had applied for almost $300 million to fight Aids, $58 million to combat tuberculosis, almost $60 million for malaria and $83 million for its health service in general.


The money, if it reached its intended sources, would help Zimbabwe’s deteriorating health and medical services recover from their shocking decline. The combined economic and political crises in the country have had a dire effect on the health system, and an entire nation is now battling hunger, cholera and Aids with no proper treatment.


But Zimbabwean law states that all foreign exchange must be deposited with

the Reserve Bank, and herein is where the concern lies. RBZ Governor and close ally of Robert Mugabe, Gideon Gono, routinely delays releasing any funds and funds have often mysteriously gone missing after being filtered through the Bank. For example an estimated US$600,000 for one aid programme was for several months kept in the grip of the Bank and a senior official with one donor organisation in Harare reported that some funds had actually gone missing after arriving at the RBZ. Large sums of donor money, in foreign currency, had also reportedly been taken from the accounts of local aid agencies during the presidential elections.


The UN’s Global Fund has insisted that strict safeguards are in place to prevent such known corruption within the RBZ. According to Global Fund’s communication director, Jon Liden, there is no reason for concern. The money is highly controlled in an extremely tight and cautious way, he said in a recent interview. We have not seen any signs of money being lost to corruption in Zimbabwe, despite operating in Zimbabwe for five years.


But despite the UN’s insistence that the critically needed cash injection will not line the pockets of Robert Mugabe’s political elite, there is little confidence that the norm will not play out as usual. The Mugabe government has made a concerted effort to hamper any critical aid to repair the country, by blocking aid as well as stealing money and food. The fact that funds have in the past disappeared leaves little hope that the UN’s assistance will be properly distributed. – SW Radio Africa News

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