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Swedish embassy dismisses claims over LRF

Local News
Kaboru said the embassy had been supporting LRF with agreements spanning three to four years and the most recent agreement expired in March 2014.

THE Swedish embassy in Harare has dismissed claims that the non-renewal of Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)’s agreement has everything to do with the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Bill.

The embassy said the information that was being peddled by some sections of the media was false and malicious, pointing out that the decision was determined by several factors that included availability of funds.

“The embassy of Sweden would like to officially state that the information presented in the article is both malicious and totally divergent from the truth. This is totally false information which the embassy wants to categorically dismiss,” said Sweden embassy head of development co-operation, Berthollet Kaboru.

Kaboru said the embassy had been supporting LRF with agreements spanning three to four years and the most recent agreement expired in March 2014.

He added that all partners were aware that when an agreement comes to an end, it is not automatically renewed as it is determined by several factors, including availability of funds, embassy’s strategy focus areas and results achieved over the years.

The embassy said the decision not to renew the LRF agreement and some other partner organisations agreements that ended last year, and some this year, was not in any way related to the on-going deliberations in Parliament on the new version of the PVOs Bill as purported by some sections of the media.

Kaboru said it is, rather, driven by strategic imperative to create space for the pursuit of new strategic areas particularly within Economic Empowerment and Environment and Climate Change.

“The embassy is currently in fruitful dialogue with a number of government ministries regarding its current strategic focus in support of Zimbabwe,” Kaboru said.

The embassy further said contrary to the assertion in some media, it had no mandate neither to relocate nor to enter into agreement with entities outside of Zimbabwe saying in fact, Swedish embassies in Zimbabwe and Zambia were governed by separate strategies that determined the operations in the respective countries.

“The embassy of Sweden continues to value development aid and pledges to support efforts aimed at alleviating poverty and improvement of living conditions for the people of Zimbabwe, within the confines of the laws of the country,” the embassy said.

Speculation about the pull out came after the LRF announced on-going operational adjustments due to budget constraints.

It said as a result of the budget constraints, their offices in Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo would remain open and operational across the country, but the staff would be reduced.

It said the district offices that had ceased operations include Chiredzi and Zaka offices in Masvingo province; Gokwe and Zvishavane offices in the Midlands; as well as the Beitbridge and Gwanda offices in Matabeleland South.

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