EU denies interference in Zim election

HARARE - The $5 million European Union (EU) support to Zimbabwe civil society is not meant to influence next year’s harmonised elections, the EU Delegation in Harare has said.

This comes after government said it was is alarmed that EU may seek to interfere in its national elections next year, presidential spokesman George Charamba said, echoing concerns raised in previous elections.

The top government official accused Brussels of trying to manipulate domestic opposition and civil society groups to fan popular angst aimed at fomenting instability in the labour market, weaken voter trust in mainstream government under President Robert Mugabe and breed divisions within the country. 

Charamba also pointed to EU support for anti-government parties in Zimbabwe, saying “ . . . the beast is in heat again . . . we are slowly inching towards elections and the Westerners are back with their mischief, except they don’t know we are watching.” 

The EU denied all accusations of manipulation and interference intended to weaken the Zimbabwe government.

The EU said the funding is laid out in the 11th European Development Fund, National Indicative Programme (NIP) (2014–2020) programmed signed between the EU Delegation in Zimbabwe and government. In a statement on micro blogging site, Twitter, the EU said government acceded to the programme.

“We are aware, because we agreed this project with #Zim govt!” the tweet read.

“All public — laid out in the NIP that defines cooperation between EU and govt.”

Under the deal, head of EU Delegation Philippe Van Damme represented the European Commission while the government was represented by Finance ministry permanent secretary Willard Manungo.

“In line with the revised Cotonou Agreement and its Annex IV, an indicative amount of EUR 6 million is set aside to support civil society organisations.

“Additionally, further funding to civil society may be allocated under the three focal sectors in order to reach five percent target of the total NIP allocation in support to civil society organisations,” the document reads under measures in favour of civil society.

In its call for applications for funding, the EU said it was calling for proposals to “promote democratic participation, good governance and accountability as well as dialogue amongst the different stakeholders in the country.”

“The call is launched in the framework of the 11th EDF NIP, signed between the EU and the government of Zimbabwe on February 16 2015, which marked the resumption of full development cooperation between Zimbabwe and the EU.

“The government of Zimbabwe and the EU have agreed to have joint regular dialogue with civil society and the Parliament on the implementation of the 11th EDF NIP,” the EU statement read.

“The first component is directed at civil society organisations (CSOs) that seek to enhance the role of civil society in the promotion of transparency, good governance and accountability to meaningfully participate in policy dialogue. CSOs that furthermore address gender equality and the rights of marginalised groups are particularly encouraged to apply. For this component, the EU provides EUR3,5 million ($3 720 500).

“The second specific objective for which proposals are invited is to strengthen civil society’s watchdog role in the implementation of the NIP focal sectors of governance and institution building, health and agriculture-based economic development for improved, accountable and effective development outcomes as well as sustainability. For this objective, the EU provides EUR 1,5 million ($1 594 500).”

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