The Relentless Slide Continues. (Zimbabwe)
Thondlana, Barnabus, African Business
Following Zimbabwe's recent international plea for humanitarian aid to ease looming food shortages, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), says it hopes to raise an estimated $80m from donors. UNDP resident representative, Victor Angelo, told Africa Business in December that following Zimbabwe's recent appeal for food and non-food assistance, the UN had met with the donor community twice and was formulating a response under its humanitarian assistance programme.
"The overall budget of the UN humanitarian response programme that we are currently formulating is approximately $80m. However, this is a very preliminary estimate," said Angelo. "We still have to look more precisely at the hardships of people in urban and peri-urban areas as well as needs related to farm workers. It is too early to say what the response will be. But the World Food Programme is in the last stages of approving a food assistance package."
Assistance in jeopardy
Zimbabwe in November sent out an international SOS for nearly $2Obn in emergency aid to avert a national disaster resulting from a combination of food shortages, price controls and a biting foreign currency shortage. Of the amount, government needs $11bn to avert starvation, and the balance for infrastructural rehabilitation.
While government has persistently denied looming food shortages, empty shop shelves tell a different story. The UNDP said it was not taking the appeal lightly and was working with other UN agencies such as the World Food Programme, the UN Children's Fund, the World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commission for Refugees.
The UNDP is also going to rely on its extensive network of partners in the donor community, NGOs and the private sector. "We consider the appeal to be very urgent and we will try to mobilise support for it. Initial contacts make me believe that a number of donors see the humanitarian situation as a challenge that needs to be responded to," Angelo said.
Recently, government spokesperson Jonathan Moyo, told the official press that government would be the sole distributor of food in a bid to bar the use of food as a campaign tool, a move some NGOs said could hinder their humanitarian assistance programmes. The UNDP was however optimistic that humanitarian assistance provided by the UN system would be implemented in a transparent way with a clear selection of beneficiaries.
The appeal for food comes at a time when the US and the European Union (EU) have taken off the gloves to deal decisively with Zimbabwe on its violent repression and continuing anarchy in the country.
US House of Representatives chair of the subcommittee on Africa, Ed Royce, said in November that the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Bill should be passed.
"With the election approaching, and the conditions on the ground in Zimbabwe rapidly deteriorating, it's important that we pass this legislation before adjourning," he said. "The State Department has indicated that this legislation, as passed unanimously by the senate, would be quite helpful to its diplomatic efforts."
The Bill has been passed by the senate and is headed for the House floor for consideration. In an unprecedented attack on the Zimbabwean leader, Royce described Mugabe as a withered dictator who has set his country ablaze.
"In Zimbabwe, we're sadly seeing a power-crazed, aged dictator literally burning his country down," he said. "Desperate to keep his perks and avoid accountability for his crimes, President Mugabe has sanctioned utter anarchy in his homeland in an attempt to win an election he has been pressured by Zimbabweans into holding. If he had his way, Mugabe would undoubtedly run Zimbabwe as the one-parry he ran through the 1980s."
In Brussels, EU MPs …
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Publication information: Article title: The Relentless Slide Continues. (Zimbabwe). Contributors: Thondlana, Barnabus - Author. Magazine title: African Business. Publication date: January 2002. Page number: 41+. © 2009 IC Publications Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.
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