By John Chimunhu|
The United States government has spent nearly $3 billion fighting poverty, hunger, disease and economic collapse blamed on president Robert Mugabe’s poor policies in Zimbabwe, it emerged.
United States Harare embassy spokesperson Karen Kelley said the money – $160 million of which was given in 2014 – had gone towards improving food security, increasing agricultural production and farmer incomes, developing small businesses, promoting civil society and democratic engagement, and providing health services “to save lives”.
Zimbabwe has plunged from being a net exporter of food to being dependant on donor support since Mugabe took over at independence in 1980. Mugabe’s alleged corruption, economic mismanagement and general repression are largely cited as reasons for the collapse of what was once one of sub-saharan Africa’s most vibrant economies. The country now depends on food handouts from the West after Mugabe and his supporters plundered commercial farms under the guise of black empowerment.
“For more than 30 years, the American people, through USAID, provided over $2.6 billion in assistance to the people of Zimbabwe, including significant food aid and emmergency relief during times of critical need,” Kelley said.
Controversy has arisen over how the assistance is distributed, with the governing party, Zanu PF, claiming that aid channelled through non-governmental organisations is for regime change purposes. Kelley denied this. She said of the $160 million given in 2014, $130 million went towards “improving health services for Zimbabweans in areas including HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, nutrition, maternal/ child health and reproductive health”.
Kelley dismissed claims published in the pro-Mugabe state-run Herald newspaper that funds given through NGOs had been abused.
“The U.S. Government works with a variety of partners and organisations and adheres to the highest standards of accountability for U.S. funds. The U.S. government takes seriously allegations regarding the misuse of resources. The USAID Office of the Inspector General is an independent office responsible for investigating such claims,” said Kelley.
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