THE European Union (EU) has extended a $5 million sponsorship deal to pro-democracy groups in the country in a move likely to be viewed by President Robert Mugabe as part of the West’s renewed efforts to effect regime change.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a statement requesting for proposals last week, the EU said the funding was in line with the bloc’s development co-operation with Zimbabwe. Mugabe has accused Western governments of funding “regime change” merchants, including opposition parties in the country, over the past two decades.
“In its efforts to promote equality and empowerment of young women and men, the European Union in Zimbabwe has launched a fresh call for proposals to strengthen the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in promoting equality and empowerment of young women and men,” the EU said.
“In total, the EU provides €5 million ($5 368 500) for projects that address the following objectives: The overall objective of the call is to enhance civil society organisations’ participation in Zimbabwe’s public policies and programmes to promote a more equitable, open and democratic society.”
The EU added that the objective was to promote peace, stability, human rights, rule of law, the empowerment of young women and men and their participation in inclusive and sustainable growth within the overall concept of decent work for all.
“The call will prioritise support to multi-actor partnerships with the private sector and public authorities, socio-economic initiatives aimed at sustainable wealth and job creation, sustainable service provision for productive activities and access to productive resources and improvement of the business environment and practices,” it added.
“Specific emphasis is put on tackling injustice and inequality and enabling citizens and populations to benefit from inclusive social services, wealth and job creation.”
The EU has denied funding regime change, but has insisted on the respect of human rights that Mugabe has been accused of disregarding.
The government, two months ago, lashed out at the EU after the bloc announced similar funding for civil society, describing it as “dubious” financing of opposition projects.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba was more scathing in his reaction.
“The beast is in heat again. We are slowly inching towards elections and the Westerners are back with their mischief, except they don’t know we are watching. We are also aware of their involvement in other areas, including fomenting instability in the labour market,” he said.