BY BYRON MUTINGWENDE
In a sure sign of the thawing relations between the country and western powers, the Zimbabwean government and the European Union (EU) signed five financial agreements on Monday with the health sector getting the biggest support.
This came to light during the signing ceremony of financing agreements of the 2015 annual action plans under the 11th European
Development Fund held at the New Government Complex housing the ministry of finance and economic development.
The development comes barely less than 11 months after the European Union took a further step towards the normalization of relations with Zimbabwe by allowing the appropriate measures under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement to expire.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of financial agreements amounting to EUR89 million under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) with Zimbabwe, the country’s head of the EU delegation, Philippe Van Damme said he was optimistic the money would be used to stop economic and social decline.
“Among the financial agreements signed today, the health sector is the biggest recipient with EUR55 million as support to the Health Transition Fund 2015 and the Health Development Fund 2016-2020, administered by UNICEF.
“The programmes are aimed at protecting the population against the most important health treats, in particular those at the root of maternal and child mortality; strengthening national health systems at provincial and district levels; and promoting equal access to health services by supporting the necessary reforms on health funding,” the EU said in a statement.
A total of EUR15 million has been set aside for Resilience building in the food and nutrition security sector. The programme, being administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), aims at enhancing the food and nutrition status and the overall resilience of vulnerable communities to better cope with challenges posed by changing conditions.
The statement added that public finance management reforms will be supported by EUR10 million through the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (ZIMREF), administered by the World Bank.
The promotion of migration governance will be supported with EUR3 million, administered by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) whose objective is to develop a migrant policy based on respect of the fundamental rights of the migrants as enshrined in international conventions.
Another EUR6 million is set aside for capacity building in the National Authorising Office (NAO) at the ministry of finance and economic development, and for technical assistance, studies or consulatancies in support of the formulation and implementation of the programmes approved under the NIP.
In his acceptance speech, finance and economic development minister Patrick Chinamasa applauded the EU for funding the public finance management enhancement programme, National Authorising Office (NAO) and migration governance.
“I am confident that the support given to these institutions will enhance effectiveness and efficiency levels of the beneficiary institutions,” Chinamasa said.
He called on the European Investment Bank and other European banks to take a cue from a gesture by the EU as a way of demonstrating its commitment to working with the government of Zimbabwe.
“I would, therefore want to extend my invitation to European investors to come and invest in Zimbabwe,” Chinamasa said.