Political Editor—
The United States Agency for International Development has requested $21,8 million to fund political activities in Zimbabwe for 2016, including availing money to the civil society’s agenda to “hold Government accountable”. Information at hand indicates that some of the countries to receive the money in Sub-Saharan Africa besides Zimbabwe are South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Liberia and Somalia.

According to USAID, the money will help fund programmes that prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict and address regional transitional threats; strengthen democratic institutions; support social services for vulnerable populations and foster economic growth.

A budget request for next year (FY2016) clearly prioritises political activities and in Zimbabwe it is centred on Parliament, local government and civil society.

“The FY 2016 request will expand efforts to improve governance in Zimbabwe by placing greater emphasis on strengthening Parliament, local governments, and executive branch structures and supporting civil society efforts to give voice to the people and hold Government accountable.

“Efforts will also focus on improving food security,” reads part of the USAID’s request to the US government.

USAID is in the eye of a storm after about $850 million it provided to anti-Government organisations in the country was looted by a clique of individuals linked to Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe.

The US Embassy in Harare on Wednesday tried to play down USAID’s regime change agenda activities by outlining its social undertakings.

Apart from sponsoring anti-Government civil society organisations, the US has been criticised for trying to infiltrate Zimbabwean institutions such as Parliament, where a CIA spy agent Mr Eric Little, was working with legislators seeking to undermine the Zanu-PF Government.

Zimbabwe is one of the six “key” Sub-Saharan African countries mentioned specifically in the budget.

According to the budget, DRC is set to receive $70,6 million, Liberia ($76,5 million), Somalia ($87,7 million), South Sudan ($175 million), Sudan ($9,1 million) and State Africa Regional, which “support(s) cross-cutting programmes that prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict and address regional transnational threats; strengthen democratic institutions, support social services for vulnerable populations and foster economic growth” will receive $26,8 million.

The US will also be conducting “public policy” programmes, “to further US foreign policy goals by informing and influencing foreign opinion.”

The US explained in the budget that, “public diplomacy efforts include countering misinformation about US society and policies, strengthening relationships between Americans and foreign publics, and shaping worldwide information campaigns on issues such as climate change, food security, water, and global health”.

These activities, which Zimbabweans have been involved in the past, include Global Women’s issues, the Young African Leaders Initiative (the Mandela Washington Fellowship), cultural and professional exchange programmes and academic programmes such as the Fulbright programmes.

Last year, a young Zimbabwean, Mr Takunda Chingonzo, was part of the Young African Leaders Initiative and interviewed US President Barack Obama.

The subversive activities of USAID in developing countries run deep since the agency was formed in 1961.

The agency describes itself as playing “an active and critical role in the promotion of US foreign policy interests” and that its activities have “long-term benefits for America and the American people”.

Scholars note that USAID does overtly what the Central Intelligence Agency does covertly.