Chinamasa looks to Switzerland for cash

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THE government will sign a Memorandum of  Understanding (MoU) with Switzerland to allow the European country to channel development assistance directly as relations with the West continue to improve after over a decade-long standoff, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said on Monday.
Zimbabwe’s relations with western governments broke down in 2000 over allegations of human rights violations and electoral theft against President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, which he denies, but ties have thawed in recent times.
“We have agreed to start step by step negotiations of a Memorandum of Understanding on economic cooperation between the Swiss government and ourselves,” Chinamasa told journalists after a closed door meeting with Swiss officials.
Switzerland is currently providing health, agriculture, education and capacity development through non-governmental organisations, who will no longer be involved in dealings between the two governments.
Chinamasa said the MoU would be premised on the Paris Declaration, which encourages direct contact between a development partner and the recipient country and support to building up institutional capacity to handle any development assistance that may be provided to the country.
“Basically it encourages transparency, accountability and minimising duplication of aid efforts,” he said, without giving figures involved or any timeline.
Switzerland as so far disbursed $6,1 million to Harare through the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (Zim-Fund) set up in 2010 to support the country’s economic recovery efforts.
The fund is managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and currently holds $125 million in contributions from seven European countries.
“We are most happy to note that relations have evolved significantly since the visit of our secretary of state some months ago and we are actually moving ahead with negotiating the MoU,” said Willi Graff, Deputy head Regional Cooperation in the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
The Swiss, he said, would continue to play a “catalytic” role to spur Zimbabwe’s development and help reintegrate the country into the mainstream world economy.Advertisement