US Cuts Aid to Zimbabwe Action Groups Ahead of Election

The United States said Monday it had cut funding to three Zimbabwean civil action groups citing “possible misuse” of money ahead of July 30 elections, the first vote since Robert Mugabe was ousted.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reduced its support for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), the Election Resource Center (ERC) and the Counseling Services Unit (CSU).

“We did have to cut some funding. We have regular safeguards and checks on how the money is used,” U.S. Embassy spokesman David McGuire told AFP.

McGuire said USAID provided about $250 million aid to Zimbabwe annually.

Okay Machisa, director of ZimRights, confirmed the cut in funds, but vowed to continue work.

“It has dented our programs, but it does not mean we are closing shop. We have other work that is supported by other partners,” Machisa told AFP.

Zimbabwe is holding presidential, parliamentary and local elections at the end of this month under international scrutiny after previous elections during Mugabe’s 37-year rule were marred by graft and violence.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, who took over from Mugabe, has promised a free, fair and credible poll.

Mnangagwa, of the ruling ZANU-PF party, is facing off against main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, 40, from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, in a presidential race that has 23 candidates.

The U.S. Embassy said on Twitter that “as a result of regular internal oversight, USAID became aware of the possible misuse of U.S. assistance funding.”

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