By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, May 6 (The Source) – Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on Wednesday told donor agencies to be transparent in channeling aid to the country and to do so through government to ensure effectiveness as relations with the West continue to thaw.
He said if aid is channeled through other organisations, as has happened in the past where aid was distributed through non-governmental organisations due to strained relations with the west, it would be difficult to acknowledge it.
“I can’t say thank you (to donor countries) if I don’t know where the assistance has gone, whether it has come and whether we need it and whether it is playing a transformative impact on our economy,” Chinamasa told donor agencies and ambassadors at a one-day meeting to review aid coordination.
“In the past I have been asked by the home governments of those developed countries (about the aid) and I have frankly told them that I don’t know about it and it was true I didn’t know about it.”
He said there was also need to avoid duplication and biased concentrated assistance in one sector and pledged to deal with issues of abuse of funds.
Relations between Harare and the European Union have been frosty since the bloc imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe, his inner circle and selected firms in 2002 over alleged rights abuses.
The EU last November lifted the sanctions but maintains a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his wife as well as an arms embargo.
“I am very encouraged that we are on the right path and we need to encourage each other to continue walking that path. It’s very encouraging because it was inconceivable two years ago, it’s now possible. I hope we will travel together on this promising path, a path of deepening and strengthening our partnership in a transparent way,” he said.
Earlier this year the EU gave Zimbabwe $270 million in development assistance with most of the funds going towards agriculture, health and institutional building.
Chinamasa said government recognized the shortfalls and constraints in the existing framework for aid coordination and was committed to review and strengthen it.
Government last year established a Cabinet Committee on Aid Coordination chaired by the finance ministry.
Speaking at the same event, United Nations resident coordinator, Bishow Parajuli said the meeting was critical to appreciate the full extent of development efforts and cement further cooperation.
“The strengthening of aid coordination will assist in clearly identifying and addressing development needs and gaps in areas such as poverty, food security, nutrition, education,” he said.
He said the country’s economy was going through some challenges, tight fiscal space and this had a negative effect on public service delivery among others.
“Effective implementation of the development agenda will complement economic reform efforts but it will also depend on the reinforcement with other enabling factors such as policy consistency, fiscal reform, debt management, efficiency of public sector institutions and public accountability,” he said.