ZIMBABWE: Global Fund rejects appeal, denies political bias

Photo: Global Fund
The Global Fund has rejected allegations of political bias
johannesburg, 12 October 2004 (PlusNews) - Zimbabwe's request for funding from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria has again been rejected.

Last week Zimbabwe appealed the Fund's earlier rejection of its HIV/AIDS and TB grant proposals. Fund spokesman Tim Clark told PlusNews on Tuesday that "sadly, neither of the Zimbabwe appeals was successful".

In July the Fund turned down proposals from Zimbabwe for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, "for technical reasons". David Parirenyatwa, Zimbabwe's Minister of Health and Child Welfare, accused the Fund of political bias, something the Global Fund has strongly denied.

Had its proposals been approved, Zimbabwe would have benefited from a US $218 million five-year commitment by the Fund. Clark pointed out that Zimbabwe was not the only country to have proposals rejected in July: 36 proposals had been unsuccessful.

There were 13 appeals to the Fund to reconsider country proposals, and "of these Zimbabwe launched two appeals - it only appealed for two of the disease components (HIV/AIDS and TB), and neither of those were successful at appeal," Clark noted.

As was the case in July, "technical reasons were given for the failure of the appeals, which were judged by an independent panel, and those reasons will be communicated back to Zimbabwe. So, if they intend to re-lodge the applications in the next round [of proposals], they will have a good idea of what work needs to be done to knock them into shape," Clark said.

However, Mary Sandasi, the director of a local HIV/AIDS group, Women and AIDS Support Network, told PlusNews she believed the Global Fund was "mixing issues" and had "a hiddgen agenda".

"The Global Fund is supposed to be looking at HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, but they are taking up other issues; issues that are to do with the people of Zimbabwe, and that can only be dealt with by Zimbabweans without outside interference," Sandasi said.

"I think this is the fourth round [of proposals], and we have not received any funding from them. We feel there is a hidden agenda," she added.

Clark denied any political bias in the Fund's decision. "Anybody looking at our portfolio of grants throughout the world will see we have given grants to North Korea, Sudan, Myanmar ... to a number of difficult environments throughout the world. I don't think that, logically, anybody could accuse us of political motivations in our funding decisions," he said.

He explained that the funding applications "are all screened by an independent panel; the board of the Global Fund then approves funding on the basis of the recommendations of the independent technical review panel, which is an international review panel that reviews [proposals] for technical efficacy".

He noted that "there are two grants that have already been approved to Zimbabwe during the first round in April 2002 - some US $14 million for HIV/AIDS programmes and a malaria grant for nearly US $9 million - and it's unfortunate the subsequent applications have not been successful".

The appeal process concluded on 7 October. Three proposals succeeded, one each from Niger, Russia and Uzbekistan.

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