HARARE – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has vehemently refuted claims that it is working in cahoots with opposition parties to effect regime change in Zimbabwe, insisting it does not interfere with political affairs of other countries.
This comes amid accusations that the United Nations (UN) agency hatched the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera)’s last week protest to push government to fire Rita Makarau as Zimbabwe Electoral Commission head to pave way for a UN-supervised poll.
It is also on the back of government announcing that it raised $17 million to fund the purchase of biometric voter registration (BVR) kits and will supervise the procurement process — a move which raised the opposition’s eyebrows, in suspicion that authorities were hijacking the key project from UNDP. UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli told a news conference yesterday that their prime focus was development.
“No it’s not true,” he said of the accusations.
“We work with government in everything. It’s not true. We never deal in political matters. I don’t know where that is coming from.”
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda immediately buttressed Parajuli’s point, saying government and the UNDP “enjoy a cordial relationship”. Sibanda also refuted claims that government was unhappy with the UNDP.
“I see no issues there. I think it’s being blown out of proportion,” he said.
Sibanda was further asked if government was not being hypocritical by availing the money to fund the BVR kits acquisition at a time UNDP was already bankrolling the process and government was appealing for $188 million to assist flood victims.
“I think that question is misplaced,” he retorted.
“Government has ministries. So responsibilities differ. I am a member of the bureaucracy and my job is to manage the implementation of programmes, . . . of development, so that question I can’t answer it, I am sorry,” Sibanda said.
Parajuli intervened: “The issue of BVR, you know we work on the request of government A, B, C, D and whatever. All UNDP programmes are joint programmes between government and UN. So government has the priority, ‘we do this, you do that’ so we respect it.
“Actually, we commend government for coming forward with resources for national programmes. It’s wonderful, that is key for sustainability . . . there should be no question of who is doing now or later because we all agree always with government. If there are changes, we agree. I think there is no need to interpret this way in a different ways,” he said.