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International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in Zimbabwe
Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
Since the end of 1999
the economic and political situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated dramatically.
In January 2001 the Swedish government decided to cut back drastically
on development cooperation in response to serious human rights violations
as well as the government’s illegal activities and its blatant disrespect
for democracy. Development cooperation with the state was terminated completely
and today all aid is provided through NGOs and UN bodies.
Why does Sweden
provide support to Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is a very poor country and requires a great deal of support
from the rest of the world. The presidential election of March 2002, which
was won by sitting president Robert Mugabe, was heavily criticised by
international teams of observers, who witnessed ballot rigging as well
as threatening and violent behaviour towards the opposition MDC party
and its supporters. The parliamentary election of March 2005, which was
won by the ruling ZANU-PF party, was also condemned by international observers
and human rights organisations.
The 2005 election
was a calmer affair than usual, although the violence has grown more subtle.
The police have acquired greater powers of control and torture and unlawful
arrests are common. The rule of law and freedom of expression are severely
restricted and the public is terrified into silence.
Under the land reforms,
white landowners and farmers have been violently evicted from their properties.
This has led to a decrease in agricultural production, which, when compounded
with drought, has brought the threat of famine to millions of people for
2005 and 2006. Health services have deteriorated and there is a serious
lack of doctors and nurses, medicines and other necessary medical supplies.
The recent government bill designed to control the operations of NGOs
in the country was blocked by the president but nevertheless caused months
of disruption to food distribution and other such operations.
How long has Sweden
been providing support to Zimbabwe?
Swedish aid to Zimbabwe began with support to the liberation movement
at the time when the country was still called Southern Rhodesia. After
independence in 1980, Sweden provided support for the economic and social
development of the country and contact between the Zimbabwean and Swedish
governments was very good.
What does Sida
do in Zimbabwe?
Owing to the continued crisis, the Swedish attitude to development cooperation
in Zimbabwe has been continually revised since 2001Its focus is on the
promotion of democratic social development and increased respect for human
rights and on helping to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Particular attention
is given to children’s rights. The present crisis has prompted extensive
support to humanitarian aid, especially in the form of food and medicine.
The aid is channelled through NGOs and UN bodies.
Democracy and human
Sida supports a number of NGOs that contribute to information campaigns
on human rights and the development of a democratic culture. Sweden helps
to finance the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) which works for
a free and independent media in the region, a mission that is extremely
difficult yet important in a country in which the government has total
control of the news.
Election Support Network (ZESN) is an organisation engaged, with Sida’s
support, in electoral observance. Sida also contributes to the Amani
Trust and the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, organisations
dedicated to helping the victims of torture. Amani also sees to the documentation
of medical injuries and offers legal aid. Sida gives practical support
to Justice for Children
and its work with children’s rights, and a rights perspective also governs
the support given to other organisations, such as the ZWLA,
the Scripture Union, Save the Children, and Musasa. Another important
organisation fighting for democracy with Sida’s support is the National
Constitution Assembly (NCA). The aim of this organisation is to produce
a new constitution that will reduce the president’s power and reinforce
the position of parliament.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a major threat to the country’s development.
It is estimated that more than one in four adult Zimbabwean is infected.
The economic crisis has further undermined the already weak welfare state,
while social instability facilitates the spread of the disease. Swedish
support is given to NGOs working with preventive measures and to care
for the sick and dying. Donor countries are trying to effect the greater
coordination of HIV/AIDS project support.
Trust provides care to poor people who are dying of AIDS in the overpopulated
suburbs of Harare. Around 40 per cent of the volunteers are themselves
HIV positive. The organisation also runs a day-care centre for children
who have been orphaned by AIDS. Around 80 children are accommodated there,
and another 70 or so are given a meal there every day.
in receipt of Swedish support is the Zimbabwe
AIDS Prevention and Support Organisation (ZAPSO), which gives information
about HIV to over 30 workplaces.
An important feature of Swedish support to Zimbabwe is the emphasis it
places on children’s safety and welfare. Sida supports a number of organisations
that run information and lobbying campaigns on children’s rights. The
Farm Orphan Support
Trust (FOST) and Catholic
Relief Services (CRS) are two of the organisations to have received
increased resources in 2004, helping them to reach out to even more children.
The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is serious. There is a severe shortage
of food in the country as a result of drought, economic crisis and reduced
agricultural output, owing in turn primarily to a chaotically implemented
land reform. Access to medicines and other necessities is also limited.
Sweden supports projects designed to address the food problems brought
about by drought and the HIV/AIDS epidemic by expanding and improving
the efficiency of yam and cassava production; providing agricultural training;
and increasing people’s awareness of HIV/AIDS.
By contributing to
UN relief initiatives and NGOs, Sweden is helping to alleviate distress.
It is of particular importance that aid programmes reach all the needy,
irrespective of their political views. The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe
has been going on for five years. One important task is to convince the
government of the importance of altering its economic policy, and so Sida
supports the efforts of the UN to open a dialogue with the government.
The Africa Groups in Sweden and Forum Syd (an umbrella organisation for
individuals and groups working with development cooperation), which have
long had extensive operations in the country (especially in the fields
of popular education, HIV/AIDS and income-generating activities), pulled
out when tougher legislation was announced. The Swedish Cooperative Centre
has been active in the country for several years, and is currently focusing
on the fields of HIV/AIDS, children, and the environment.
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