Australia will provide $5 million to Zimbabwe through the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), which is an Africa-wide initiative led by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands that provides matching grants, on a competitive basis, to private sector businesses for commercially viable projects which cannot get market finance.
Within the AECF, Australia has initiated the AECF's Zimbabwe program and is its founding donor.
Australia's contribution to Zimbabwe will help finance private sector activities that will boost Zimbabwe's rural economy and address the long-term food security needs of the Zimbabwean people. Examples include to establish seed distibution businesses and to enable small rural loans to farmers to allow them to rebuild.
Zimbabwe's agricultural sector has been seriously damaged in recent years and the rebuilding of the private sector is critical to Zimbabwe's regaining the ability to feed itself and ultimately to become again an exporter of food.
By stimulating investment in Zimbabwe, the AECF will help impoverished rural communities by boosting agricultural productivity, creating jobs and developing local enterprises.
The assistance moves beyond short-term emergency relief towards investing in longer-term recovery.
We hope other countires will also contribute to Zimbabwe through the AECF.
Today's announcement brings Australia's aid to Zimbabwe since the formation of the Inclusive Government in February 2009 to more than $33 million.
Humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe remain enormous. Australia is committed to assisting Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his Ministers rebuild Zimbabwe. We remain at the forefront of international efforts to assist the people of Zimbabwe. We continue to help meet their humanitarian and emergency relief needs.
Australia is working actively on longer term measures to support the restoration of essential services including water quality and safety, following the recent cholera outbreak; education through the provision of essential books and learning materials; and healthcare by assisting with regular allowances to enable vital health workers to stay at their posts.
Now, through the AECF, Australia is working to stimulate Zimbabwe's agricultural recovery.
Australia continues to be concerned by the grave situation in Zimbabwe. There must be an end to politically-motivated acts of violence and intimidation, human rights and the rule of law must be respected, constitutional reform must proceed unhindered. All parties must adhere to the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
Australia remains of the view that the GPA presents the best prospect of a better future for Zimbabwe. As guarantor of the power-sharing agreement, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), together with the African Union, has a critical ongoing role to play in ensuring that parties adhere to GPA terms.
We welcome the active role taken by the SADC appointed facilitator President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in resolving Zimbabwe's power-sharing disputes.
Australia's financial and travel sanctions remain in place. These sanctions target individuals who have been complicit in the brutality of Zimbabwe's past and who continue to obstruct economic and social reforms.
Significant and sustained reform will be required before Australia considers reviewing these measures.