DFID's Assistance to Zimbabwe - International Development Committee Contents

1  The Inquiry

1. Zimbabwe is in a period of fragile transition, following a decline caused by years of "neglect, repression and economic mismanagement."[1] The economy has shrunk by over 80% since 1999.[2] The last decade saw consistent negative growth, with levels of poverty worsening steadily, in the face of hyper-inflation, high unemployment, collapse of the agricultural sector and the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS.[3]

2. Bad government and political instability led to economic and social decline. Political turmoil increased further after the 2008 elections, leading to greater instability and even more desperate living conditions for ordinary Zimbabweans. The disputed outcome of the 2008 presidential elections was accompanied by the ruling ZANU-PF party subjecting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to violence and intimidation. Mediation by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and South Africa eventually resulted in a Global Political Agreement (GPA) being signed between the parties.

3. The GPA provided for the establishment of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in February 2009 (also known as the "Inclusive Government"), which included representatives of both main parties and the MDC-M.[4] Given that the MDC won the parliamentary elections and the first round of the presidential elections, the Inclusive Government is anything but satisfactory as it ensures that all the main levers of power remain with Mr Mugabe and ZANU-PF who have not fulfilled their undertakings and have sought to undermine the MDC's ability to deliver their limited areas of government. The GNU's first year in office has therefore been far from smooth, but some progress has been made in governance reforms and in addressing the significant humanitarian and development challenges.

4. Support from the international community continues to be essential in Zimbabwe. There are, however, many challenges to delivering it effectively. DFID says that "the transition from crisis to full recovery is promising to be messy, protracted and complex".[5] Its assistance has evolved to reflect the changed conditions under the GNU but it is not yet possible for DFID to "sustain a full development relationship" with the Government of Zimbabwe.[6] The future scale and nature of DFID's assistance to Zimbabwe therefore remain uncertain.

5. Our concern about the situation in Zimbabwe and the uncertainty over the future of DFID's work there led to our decision in December 2009 to launch this inquiry. Given the imminence of a UK General Election, our inquiry has had to be very brief. In Chapter 2, we include some examination of the political context in which donor support is provided. However, we have not attempted to conduct an in-depth analysis of the past and present political situation. Instead we have focused on the aspects of the situation in Zimbabwe which fall within our remit: the humanitarian situation and DFID's programme of assistance. Nevertheless, the current need for aid in Zimbabwe is a direct result of poor Government and the UK's relationship with the Government affects its ability to deliver aid effectively.

6. We received 13 submissions of written evidence, including from the UK Government, academics and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We held two evidence sessions in January and February 2010. We also met informally with NGOs working in Zimbabwe to discuss the current situation and their work in the country. We are grateful to all those who took the time to engage with the inquiry.

7. We visited Zimbabwe in February 2010. We travelled first to Harare, the national capital, and then to Bulawayo, capital of Matabeleland. We saw a variety of projects which DFID is supporting, and held discussions with a broad range of people including: the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, and other government ministers; the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo; the Governor of Bulawayo; the Mayor of Bulawayo; NGOs and delivery partners; a wide range of civil society representatives; and other donors. We visited hospitals, HIV clinics, schools and livelihoods projects. Our full visit programme is set out in the Annex to this Report. We were greatly impressed with the DFID staff and programme in Zimbabwe and would like to thank everyone who made the visit so worthwhile and interesting.

Report structure

8. The next chapter assesses the development context for DFID's work in Zimbabwe, including the implications of the recent changes in the political and economic situation. Chapter 3 examines Zimbabwe's regional relations and the role of neighbouring countries in supporting its recovery. We then look at the ways DFID has adapted its activities in Zimbabwe to reflect the particular circumstances there, including working through NGOs and multilateral bodies, and providing both humanitarian aid and wider development assistance (Chapter 4). Chapter 5 assesses DFID's support for health services and Chapter 6 focuses on its work with children, particularly those made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. In the concluding chapter we discuss DFID's future engagement with Zimbabwe.

1   Ev 48 Back

2   Ev 69  Back

3   World Health Organisation, WHO Country Cooperation Strategy 2008-2013, 2009, p 2 Back

4   The MDC split into two factions following the 2005 Senate elections; MDC-T, under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai, and MDC-M, under the leadership of Arthur Mutambara  Back

5   Ev 48 Back

6   Ev 52 Back

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