Zimbabwe asks West for cash for first time in a decade

Zimbabwe asks West for cash for first time in a decade

HARARE, May 6 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has asked for financial support from the West for the first time in a decade at a meeting of Western diplomats and international lenders.

Western nations, who accuse President Robert Mugabe’s government of election rigging and human rights abuses, have restricted funding to charities since 2002.

But Zimbabwean government officials met Western ambassadors and representatives from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) on Wednesday in Harare to discuss direct budgetary support.

“As we go forward and as we successfully build trust among ourselves, we can in future channel development assistance through the vote of credit (budget) so that we are able to plan more effectively and more efficiently,” Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the gathering which included diplomats from the United States and the European Union.

Donors, who fund health, agriculture and governance projects through U.N. agencies, have pledged $468 million to Zimbabwe this year, down from $737 million in 2014.

The EU this year gave Zimbabwe 234 million euros after lifting sanctions in November, the first time the bloc has given cash to Mugabe’s government since imposing sanctions in 2002.

Zimbabwe is one of a few developing countries that funds its budget entirely from taxes because it does not qualify for international credit due to a foreign debt of $9 billion.