Zim/EU pen US$46m agreement
Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE European Union and Zimbabwe yesterday signed two financial agreements totalling US$46 million under the Zimbabwe-EU cooperation programme, reaffirming that the engagement and re-engagement drive with the receptive international community is bearing fruit and that the EU is moving rapidly out of the sanctions orbit.
Under President Mnangagwa, the Second Republic, has pushed hard to improve relations with the international community and it’s Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra has found resonance with many.
In his remarks at the signing ceremony held at the Treasury boardroom in Harare, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said the event signified the deepening of development co-operation between the Government of Zimbabwe and the EU.
“Today marks another historic milestone in the relationship between the Government of Zimbabwe and the European Union, through the signature of two financing agreements on ‘Improving Health Outcomes for the Population of Zimbabwe at €41 million (aproximately US$40 million),” he said.
“The Government and the EU also signed for €6 million (about US$5,9 million)to support the Zimbabwean electoral process.”
The €41 million facility on improving health outcomes for Zimbabwe’s population is also in sync with the National Development Strategy 1 that feeds into Vision 2030 where the Government targets an upper middle income economy.
NDS 1 is a five-year economic development programme running between 2021 and 2025 prioritising 14 key areas that include economic growth and stability, human capital development, environment protection as well as food security and nutrition as a healthy workforce is vital to promoting economic growth and development, which are key to achieve an upper middle income economy.
The two financing agreements constitute the annual action plan for this year for Zimbabwe underthe 2021-2027 Multi- Annual Indicative Programme.
Prof Ncube said Zimbabwe had been allocated about US$144,6 million for the 2021-2027 Multi Annual Indicative Programme targeting green economic growth, social recovery and human development, and good governance and citizens’ rights.
The Improving health support will be channelled through the newly established health resilience fund, a successor to the health development fund.
“The project will be implemented by Government, Ministry of Health and Child Care and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) and has the objective of saving lives, with a strategic focus on leaving no one behind, targeting the most vulnerable in society, as well as strengthening health delivery systems and the sector’s preparedness against emerging diseases,” Prof Ncube said.
It is hoped that the US$40 million facility from the EU will go a long way in improving the health delivery system through improving the acquisition of consumables and equipment.
“The continued support to our health sector by the EU and development partners is commendable, and has been key in strengthening our healthcare service delivery and our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The country remains focused on achieving the highest standard of health care delivery and to attain high quality of life for all its citizens.
“We are cognisant of the fact that on our own we might not be able to achieve this aspiration, hence the importance of forging strong partnerships with all key stakeholders, including development partners like the EU,” said Prof Ncube.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary for Finance and Economic Development, Mr George Guvamatanga, said the occasion testified to the fruits of the re-engagement process.
“Indeed today’s occasion testifies the fruits of the re-engagement process between the Government of Zimbabwe and the EU and the Government remains committed to full re-engagement with the EU as well as full implementation of its financing agreement,” he said.
Health and Childcare Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro noted that a healthy nation gave a healthy outcome and thus President Mnangagwa has targeted that by 2030 the country should be an upper middle income economy.
This, Dr Mangwiro said, could not be achieved without good health adding that good health starts with primary health care.
“As Government, we are moving towards that to the extent that we are already constructing more than 3 000 village health centres. This means as a country we are organised into provinces with each province having a hospital. Each province is divided into districts and each district has a hospital which is supported by clinics around each district hospital and each rural centre is in turn supported by a village health centre manned by village health workers.
“Besides the primary health care, it’s also going to support emergencies. We saw the emergence of Covid-19. We do not know what will come in the future …and nature might become an emergency like we saw with Cyclone Ida. We will need to respond positively and we are very grateful that you (EU) are supporting this line of medical management,” he said.
EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Jobst von Kirchmann said the EU wanted Zimbabwe to succeed in achieving Vision 2030 and the bloc was aligning its development co-operation activities in line with NDS 1.
“Today, the Government of Zimbabwe and the EU have signed two financial agreements for a total value of €47 million to work together in two key shared priorities: health and democracy to support implementation of the Zimbabwe National Development Strategy 1.
“These financing agreements are the first to be signed within the overall EU envelop amounting to €148 million allocated to Zimbabwe for the next two years,” he said.
Further financing agreements are presently under development for interventions in the areas of green economic growth and governance.
Ambassador Kirchmann said these were expected to be signed next year, giving Zimbabwe and the EU an opportunity to agree on common objectives and activities for their implementation.
“The financing agreement for the ‘Improved Health Outcomes for the Population of Zimbabwe amounting to €41 million, together with contributions from other development partners (Ireland and the UK), will pave way for the creation of the health resilience fund, which is aimed at supporting the strategic activities of the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” he said.
“This new fund builds on the previous achievements of the HDF, a multi-donor fund financed by the EU, Sweden Ireland, the UK and GAVI.”
Amb Kirchmann said strengthening the capacity of independent commissions to deliver on their mandate is one of the strategies of the NDS1.
In this context, he said, the EU support will contribute to enhancing the institutional and technical capacity of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to fulfil its constitutional mandate.
“The support to ZEC will be complemented with support provided to civil society by the EU on advocacy, voter education, monitoring and electoral litigation,” Amb Kirchmann said.