Tuesday, December 18, 2012

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) US pledges election funding for MDC-T

US pledges election funding for MDC-T
Sunday, 16 December 2012 00:00
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Trevor Shiri and Tinashe Farawo

The United States has pledged to increase funding to pro-MDC-T civil society groups in Bulawayo, saying the organisations played a pivotal role in securing victory for the party in the province during

the 2008 harmonised elections.
This emerged as British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Deborah Bronnert commended Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations for the progress they are making in preparing for the 2013 polls.

Speaking at a meeting he held with Radio Dialogue top executives at Pioneer House in Bulawayo on Monday last week, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Bruce Wharton said the Matabeleland region was critical in securing victory for the MDC-T during the next election.

He revealed that the US, together with MDC-T Bulawayo provincial assembly chairman Mr Gorden Moyo, formed Bulawayo Agenda, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association and the National Youth Development Trust, with the sole purpose of mobilising support for the party.

Ambassador Wharton said: “USAID (the US Agency for International Development) will continue to fund the organisations to ensure their effectiveness during the next election.”

Turning specifically to Radio Dialogue, Ambassador Wharton urged the organisation to forward election project proposals that will leverage MDC-T chances of winning the 2013 harmonised polls.
“USAID is prepared to fund such programmes. The ball is in your court,” he said.

“Preferably, you should enhance your citizen journalism programmes by including the actual types of smart phones you require to ensure the expansion of the programme.”

He hailed an on-going citizen journalism programme, claiming it had “exposed” Zanu-PF and the security services as alleged perpetrators of violence.

“Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter should be effectively used to complement democratic resistance efforts on the ground.

“Technology has been effectively used to overthrow stubborn regimes,” he added.

Updating the ambassador, Radio Dialogue producer Zenzele Ndebele said his organisation’s village journalism programme was progressing and would help penetrate rural areas, which are traditionally Zanu-PF strongholds.

“Youths constitute 50 percent of registered voters and are easy to reach out to using online broadcasting and publication,” he said.

“Hence, additional USAID funding in this regard would put the icing on the cake to ensure an MDC-T victory.”

Political analyst Mr Tafara Shumba criticised the US for seeking to continue meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

“Public posturing by Wharton that the US would not interfere with Zimbabwe’s electoral processes is merely a hoax to hoodwink the people of Zimbabwe, given the underhand dealings of the US through civil society organisations,” he said.

The United States and its Western counterparts have always been working to effect regime change in Zimbabwe through local agents, among them non-governmental organisations.

In previous elections, such organisations were accused of using food aid to sway the vote in favour of the MDC-T.

The British government has been the foremost architect of the pro-MDC-T campaign following its fallout with the Zanu-PF Government over the implementation of the land reform programme.

British ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Bronnert last week said her country recognised “positive movements” in preparing for a free and fair election next year.

“There has been some positive movement in fulfilling what the political parties in the country have agreed although more still needs to be done,” she said in an interview.

“This is important, especially the putting into law of the human rights commission and the electoral Act. These are key to the holding of a free and fair election.”

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