US Will No Longer Channel Money Through Reserve Bank

HARARE, November 7 2008 - As the largest donor to humanitarian efforts in Zimbabwe, the United States said it will no longer channel funds to non-governmental organizations through the country's Reserve Bank.

The decision follows an announcement by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria that the reserve bank has failed to honor its commitment to repay $7 million designated for lifesaving medicines. U.S.

ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said the bank “diverted” the Global Fund money to other purposes. For this reason, donor funding should be withheld from Zimbabwe, and nongovernmental organizations should be permitted to access it directly, he said.

“We do not want to see the people of Zimbabwe, who need this money, disadvantaged,” said McGee. “What we do want to see however, is a surefire system to safeguard the money that is coming into Zimbabwe.”

“Through the United Nations, we have submitted a letter asking the reserve bank to give all nongovernmental organizations operating here in Zimbabwe the ability to access money from offshore accounts. We are still waiting for a response,” McGee said.

Leading organizations in Zimbabwe say they cannot carry out their work because the reserve bank restricts the amount of donor funds they are able to withdraw. The bank also bans electronic transfers of funds from nongovernmental organizations to pay for goods and services needed to distribute emergency food supplies to millions of hungry Zimbabweans.

“These are brave people, they are doing God’s work trying to help the people of Zimbabwe, and until the government takes these artificial restraints away from the system, it is going to be very difficult for nongovernmental organizations to do what they are here in Zimbabwe to do,”

said McGee.

Radio VOP

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