USAID cuts funding to Zimbabwe civil societies due to alleged misuse

A decision by the United States to cut off financial aid to three Zimbabwean groups has sparked fears in the county.

The Election Resource Centre, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association and Counselling Services Unit had their funding withdrawn by the U.S., which alleges misuse of the funds.

Zimbabweans fear the decision could have a negative impact on the credibility of the country’s much awaited presidential election, even though the groups are confident they will continue their work.

USAID said a regular audit had unearthed unusual activity and non-compliance in the use of donated funds, however one of the affected organisations, the Election Resource Centre, says it has not been furnished with details of the alleged impropriety. It claims previous monthly and quarterly financial reviews conducted by its US funding partners had not raised any red flags.

The three pro-democracy groups have been vocal in calling for comprehensive reforms ahead of the first post-Mugabe vote. Under the long serving former leader some civic society organisations were accused of supporting a Western-sponsored regime change agenda.

Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa has led an international re-engagement process and promised a free and fair election. More than 1000 election observers from 46 countries and organisations are expected to monitor the July 30th poll.