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Donor Funds Divide GNU

WITH nine days left before its first 100 days in office, the inclusive government is locked in infighting over a whole range of issues and is limping on as it faces a growing threat of paralysis.

The latest in a series of battles within government is a fight over donor funds.

It has emerged that President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF ministers are not happy about Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his ministers’, particularly Finance minister Tendai Biti’s, campaign to mobilise donor funds via parallel structures which are not part of the government system.

There were clashes in government this week after Tsvangirai was barred by state security guards from entering State House on Monday to attend a banquet held by Mugabe for a visiting North Korean government delegationTsvangirai could not enter after the guards refused one of his convoy vehicles entry, leading him to depart in anger.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman James Maridadi confirmed the incident.

“The Prime Minister was invited for the state banquet but could not get in as a matter of principle after one of his vehicles was denied entry,” he said.

“Instead of wasting time on such trivial issues, he went back home to concentrate on the 100-Day Plan which his office formulated and is now executing.”

Beside this incident, sources said Mugabe was livid after meeting Tsvangirai at South African President Jacob Zuma’s swearing-in ceremony in Pretoria last Saturday. Sources said Mugabe thought Tsvangirai was not invited and was certain Zimbabwe would be represented by Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, First Lady Grace and himself, only to see Tsvangirai pitching up.

The sources said this heightened tensions between them, especially after the premier had left the country without the required cabinet clearance. Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara was also there. Neither Tsvangirai nor Mutambara were  part of Mugabe’s delegation.

Sources said Mugabe and his ministers feel that Tsvangirai and his officials are systematically sidelining them in their initiatives to secure funds for economic recovery.

The issue has been raised in government structures amid growing fears that it could hamper the resource mobilisation campaign. Sources said Zanu PF ministers are worried about Biti’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund and his proposal to form a “focal unit” within his ministry to receive donor funds. The focal unit would coordinate donor funding while the Multi-Donor Trust Fund is being established.

The structures which are not part of the treasury are seen as a threat by Zanu PF officials who are scared the funds would be used to hijack the inclusive government.

Zanu PF’s suspicions are that if the MDC takes control of the funds it would be a stronger partner in government and would use its leverage to seize power from within.

“There is a new fight within the government over these donor funds, especially Biti’s focal unit and the Multi-Donor Trust Fund,” a source said this week.

“Zanu PF officials think Tsvangirai would grab  power  using this money which is under his minister’s control.”

Sources said Zanu PF ministers warned Biti to exercise caution in his engagement with international donors, claiming the donors were trying to bypass and sideline established government structures as implied in the proposal to form the Focal Unit and Multi-Donor Trust Fund.

The sources said Zanu PF ministers are demanding that they should be allowed to take charge of the country’s strategic interests, instead of leaving them to the MDC and donors.

After his recent visit to Washington and London, Biti met donors last week to set up the Multi-Donor Trust Fund to mobilise resources via the Humanitarian-Plus initiative.

The Multi-Donor Trust Fund would be driven by the World Bank, African Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry of Finance. No Zanu PF ministers would be involved directly and the funds would be administered by Biti.

This is said to be causing suspicions and frustration among Zanu PF ministers who were used to managing the treasury.

Zimbabwe has so far got more than US$1 billion from donors which is helpful but a mere pittance in view of its search for US$10 billion for economic recovery.

The internal battles for influence and control within the inclusive government — reflected in the tug-of-war between Mugabe and Tsvangirai — are being fought on many fronts.

The points of conflict within the divided government, trying hard to present a united front even though the political gulf is increasingly widening, include:

-    Receipt, management and distribution of donor money through the focal point and Multi-Donor Trust Fund;
-    Conditions of political and economic reforms attached to some donations;
-    Engagement with the United States and European Union over sanctions via the ministerial task force;
-    The formulation and implementation of the economic recovery plan and
-    The unresolved issues contained in the Global Political Agreement, especially the role of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.

Sources said Zanu PF officials are uncomfortable with the international community’s insistence on political and economic reforms before providing aid. Zanu PF ministers also want their MDC counterparts to denounce sanctions like Mutambara and push for immediate talks with US and EU officials to get them lifted, an approach not welcome by Tsvangirai and his group.    

Besides, there is also friction about the economic recovery plan. Although the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme was initiated by the MDC, Zanu PF officials are claiming that most of its content was “plagiarised” from their policy documents. A document to substantiate this has been prepared and would be presented at an opportune time.


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