EU stumps US$5 million on CSOs

THE European Union (EU) has given civic society organisations (CSOs) US$5,5m to help them work towards contributing to good governance and development in the country.

This comes as the bloc recently voiced its concerns over government heavy-handedness in dealing with last year’s electoral violence and January’s riots which left at least 20 people dead and dozens others seriously wounded.

In a statement announcing the funding, the EU said it was meant to create capacity within CSOs “to positively participate” in various processes which include decision-making and promotion of good governance.

“In total, the EU is providing €5m (approximately USD$5,5 million) for projects that enhance the capacity of civil society organisations to constructively participate in decision-making processes at all levels to promote good governance, accountability, transparency and social cohesion,” the organisation said.

During the launch of the funding, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen, said the bloc will continue supporting CSOs as they were key actors in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

“This will include strengthening them to effectively perform their monitoring and representative role which also entails empowering both women and men, to collectively tackle injustice and inequality, to advocate for better social services and decent livelihoods,” Olkkonen said.

EU has released the funding under its Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities’ (CSO - LA) thematic programme.

“The objective… is to strengthen civil society organisations and local authorities in partner countries with the aim of fostering an enabling environment for citizen participation and civil society action and cooperation, exchange of knowledge, experience and capacities, in support of internationally agreed development goals and in this instance, the 2030 agenda,” the bloc said.

Last week the EU said the post 30 July 2018 poll killings and this year’s deadly fuel riots had harmed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to win the powerful bloc’s support, as well as his quests to mend Zimbabwe’s broken relationship of the past two decades with the West.

In an address to journalists in Harare, Olkkonen said the bloc had been appalled by the human rights violations in the country which had been attributed to security forces after the 30 July 2018 national elections and the fuel riots of early this year. 

In this year’s riots, police and soldiers engaged in running battles with protesters who flooded the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and other towns — to demonstrate against the steep fuel price hikes which had been announced by Mnangagwa ahead of his tour of Eastern Europe.

The Zanu PF leader, who was feted like a king when he replaced ousted former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, initially lifted the mood of crisis-weary Zimbabweans who were hopeful at the time that he would turn around the country’s sunken fortunes.

Political analysts have said human rights breaches blamed on security forces have dented the president’s international image significantly, in addition to harming his chances of getting financial support from Western countries.

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