BRITAIN has unveiled a US$100 million aid package to Zimbabwe that will be channelled towards education, health, water and sanitation.
Speaking to journalists in Harare yesterday, the British ambassador to Zimbabwe Mark Canning said the money would help the inclusive government to try and revive the education and health sectors and also improve the country’s water and sanitation systems.
“The United Kingdom is committed to helping the parties in the inclusive government make the arrangement work,” said Canning. “We do not want the inclusive government to falter because of lack of funds.”
Canning also said his country was happy with the economic progress that has been made by the inclusive government.
“There has been some significant progress on the economy by the inclusive government, and we are quite happy about that. We hope it will continue,” he said.
The US$100 million package is the UK’s largest aid programme ever to Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the same press conference, Dave Fish, the head of the UK Department for International Development said: “This is the UK’s largest aid programme ever to Zimbabwe and our support reaches all Zimbabweans irrespective of their political persuasion.”
Fish said his country was committed to helping out the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.
“We are supporting a comprehensive set of humanitarian and development programmes that save lives, livelihoods and build the foundations of the future growth,” he said.
Canning, however, said there has been little progress in the fulfilment of outstanding issues of the global political agreement (GPA).
“There has been some tentative progress in fulfilling the GPA. We also have not seen substantial progress in the human rights issues, the rule of law and the issues of governance,” Canning said.
Signatories of the GPA — President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara — have been playing a blame game regarding the sticking points with Zanu PF pointing at sanctions and pirate radio stations as the major outstanding issues.
On the other hand, Tsvangirai’s MDC cites the appointments of provincial governors, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono as the major impediments to the fulfilment of the GPA.
Another issue is the refusal by Mugabe to swear in MDC’s Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister, arguing that he has a pending court case. Bennett is facing allegations of possession of arms for the purpose of terrorism and banditry and inciting acts of insurgency.
He was indicted to the High Court on Wednesday and remanded in custody. His trial is set to begin on Monday.