Mugabe grabs aid money: Vigil

As we mourned the death of Nelson Mandela, the Vigil was shocked to learn that the UN has apparently agreed to divert some of the aid going to help Zimbabwe’s starving people to help pay for the illegal regime’s pie-in-the-sky economic development plan.

Speaking after a meeting with UN officials in Harare, the deputy chief secretary to the president, Dr Ray Ndlukula, said: ‘The United Nations country team in Zimbabwe and the government have agreed to scale down on humanitarian activities and integrate humanitarian work into recovery and development.’ – in other words, cut down help for the poor and spend aid money as we tell you.

The Vigil is opposed to giving the Mugabe regime any say in how international aid to Zimbabwe is used because there is clear evidence of Zanu (PF)’s corruption, including the systematic theft of the diamond revenues which should fund its economic plan. We call on the UK government not to allow any of its aid to be diverted for Mugabe’s political purposes and, indeed, to step up surveillance to make sure that British aid is not hijacked by Zanu (PF) supporters and denied to opponents of the Mugabe regime. The Vigil is sending the following open letter to the UK’s International Development Secretary, who is in charge of the enormous £10 – £11 billion aid budget – among the largest in the world.

“Dear Ms Greening – Zimbabweans exiled in the UK applaud the UK’s generous aid to our country. Our people have benefitted greatly from it. But we are alarmed by reports that the UN has agreed to reduce its humanitarian programmes in Zimbabwe and instead divert the money to prop up the Mugabe regime’s back-of- the-envelope Zim Asset economic development plan.

“The UN agencies and its development partners provided $426 million last year under the Zimbabwe UN Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF). The programme has provided food assistance for 1.4 million people, medicines to 90% of health facilities, the distribution of school textbooks as well as other help such as agricultural inputs. It is now proposed that some of this money should help finance government plans.

“The Zimbabwe Vigil is opposed to giving the illegal regime any say in how international aid to Zimbabwe is used as there is clear evidence of its corruption and its hijacking of diamond revenues. We appeal to the UK government not to allow any of its aid to be diverted to prop up the Mugabe regime and, in particular, we call on it to exercise vigilance to stop aid being denied to opponents of the Mugabe regime.

“Our concern has been heightened by a report in the Daily Mail that your own audit department has found that UK tax money has already gone to the Zimbabwe regime in spite of insistence that this would not be the case “U K government gave £80,000 in taxpayers’ money to Zimbabwe government in contravention of its own rules.”

Singing to the accompaniment of one of our drums, a large group of Vigil supporters joined mourners outside the nearby South African High Commission. ‘ANC betrays Mandela’ was one of our condolence messages left at South Africa House. We were embarrassed that the Zimbabwe flag continued to fly at full mast at Zimbabwe House when flags across London were at half-mast to mark Mandela’s death.

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