Switzerland has resumed channelling development aid directly to the Zimbabwe government after cutting ties with Harare over a decade ago. Relations between Zimbabwe and Switzerland soured at the turn of the millennium when the Swiss Federal Council joined the United States and other European countries in imposing sanctions on a number of individuals and firms in the country, including a prohibition on the supply of arms, the freezing of assets and travel restrictions after Harare implemented agrarian reforms to correct a colonial legacy.
Announcing a $6,3 million aid package for the rehabilitation of smallholder irrigation schemes in Masvingo a fortnight ago, Swiss ambassador to Zimbabwe Luciano Lavizzari said his government was eager to improve ties with Harare.
Ambassador Lavizzari said provision of the funding was a sign of a change of modalities in the development cooperation between the two countries.
“Furthermore, early this year Switzerland conveyed to the Government of Zimbabwe our resolve to work more directly with the authorities in the field of development co-operation in the future,” he said.
“Concretely this means that Switzerland now agrees to work more directly with the government of Zimbabwe without intermediaries and gradually making use of the country systems.”
Through the Swiss Development Co-operation, Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, has been providing more than $18 million annually in the form of humanitarian and development assistance in areas such as food security, HIV and Aids, water supply and sanitation as well as protection and gender.
In October, the EU removed some of the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe over a decade ago, a decision that will see financial support being channelled directly to the Government and not Non-Governmental Organisations.
The EU has said it would resume channelling development aid directly to the Zimbabwe government next year. — New Ziana.