THE UN called for greater international support and investment in Zimbabwe with a new administration in place and plans to hold free and fair general elections later in 2018.
Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Co-ordinator and Resident Representative for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe, said in New York that now is the time to support the country.
“I think the international community should be very open, the UN should be very open, to engage and partner with – and support Zimbabwe – to come out of some of the major crises they have had in the last several years so they can stand on their own.”
Zimbabwe is emerging from the nearly 40-year rule of former President Robert Mugabe, who resigned in November 2017.
His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has pledged to build “a new Zimbabwe,” one that is not only openly courting foreign investment but also committed to upholding human rights.
“The Government has been very active in terms of promoting engagement and they have declared themselves as open for business, contrary to the past administration.
“They are calling for a lot of investors to come in, private sector to come in, which is really fundamental, actually. Aid alone is not enough,” Parajuli said.
According to him, international investment will help Zimbabwe to address numerous development challenges.
He said 25 UN entities were already operating in the country, supporting national efforts in areas such as stamping out HIV and AIDS and driving down maternal mortality rates.
In 2017, their 150 international staff and 800 local colleagues delivered more than $400-million (R4.9-billion) in projects and programmes, he said adding, overall, they accounted for more than 60 percent of official development assistance administered in the country.
Parajuli explained that the relationship between the UN country team and Zimbabwe had always been “excellent” and now had now become stronger.
“For example, the UN system is supporting the promotion of human rights,” he said.
“We are working in supporting the strengthening of the Parliament, we are supporting in areas of peace building, and we are also supporting in different areas of capacity-building to the Electoral Commission to contribute to that process of free, fair and transparent elections.”
The election is scheduled for July and the new Government has invited the European Union and other international observers to monitor the process: a first for the country.
UNDP Executive Director Achim Steiner, travelled to Zimbabwe in March, marking the first time in years that a senior UN official had visited the country.
Parajuli believed Zimbabwe was prepared to hold a credible vote saying: “As far as we see it, there are some good signs because the new voter rolls are being developed, with 5.4 million in new voter registration”.
“There is a lot of engagement between political parties and the ruling faction; engagement between the Election Commission, civil society and others.
“The political parties themselves are getting together to agree on a code of conduct for holding peaceful elections. So, all these signs are positive,” he said.