JASS Blog Archives for September 2008

by Martha Tholanah on September 8, 2008 on 8:01 am

I sit here in Harare agonising, and wishing I had the same courage our Swazi sisters have. The fear is just paralysing!!

NGOs Ban, Political Crisis Stall 'Basket Fund' Saturday, 06 September 2008 

THE political violence that engulfed the country after the March 29 harmonised elections and the resultant ban on the operations of non-governmental organisations has stalled the implementation of a Basket Fund that was meant to co-ordinate Gender Empowerment activities.

The fund, with more than one million Euros behind it, was initiated in 2006, following concerns that there was "duplication of effort, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness" in gender empowerment programmes.

According to Eunice Njovana, who heads the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) office in Zimbabwe, the lack of co-ordination "resulted in lack of clarity on what was happening, who was doing what, where, with whom, with what/whose support and what was being achieved"?

"The lack of a co-ordinated approach to programming also made it difficult to identify gaps and priorities in the sector, to assess the strategic value of the different efforts and to ensure that the different programmes performed to expected standards," noted Njovana.

The fund was supposed to become operational at the beginning of August, but because of the post-March 29 political crisis and the NGO ban, the implementers of the project have been forced to delay its take-off. At the earliest, the project would now be implemented next month.

The main reason for the delay, noted Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WcoZ) deputy chairperson, Rutendo Hadebe, were the unforeseen political developments related to the elections. WCOZ are the main implementing partner of the project.

"Although August 1 was set as the beginning of implementation date, the whole programme and inception phase envisaged late 2007 and beginning of 2008 had not anticipated a rather unpredictable and stretched election period," said Hadebe.

Developments after the first elections in March also stalled the process. The violence which followed "made it difficult to hold consultative workshops nationwide on time".

"The process of consultative workshops began at the same time as campaigning for harmonised elections and then later, the presidential election run-off," Njovana said. "Mobilising and focusing people’s attention on the inception phase and the procedures involved in seeking authorisation to hold workshops around the country meant the process took longer. Constantly changing prices as a result of the economic environment also affected our ability to control our budget."

With women being most affected by political violence, women’s organisations also diverted their attention to focus more on assisting violence victims.

"In addition, the resulting political violence and victimisation saw women’s organisations having to take up the role of offering humanitarian support to hundreds of women victims, as opposed to continuing the inception phase which had become impossible under the then prevailing conditions," Hadebe said.

Hadebe said some of their community-based partners failed to undertake consultations for the inception phase because of the NGO ban in June. Although the ban has since been lifted, NGOs say they still cannot operate because of some "structural barriers".

As a result of the delay, the implementers are "yet to identify the grant recipients because we are still in the process of developing the project document and the systems, tools and procedures for basket fund management".

Once implemented, the fund would harmonise gender empowerment activities, supporting "a broad range of issues".

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