Zimbabwe Thursday said it would reimburse the Global Fund US$6.5 million within days, representing the amount which it had diverted from the fight against AIDS, Turberculois and Malaria, after the agency threatened to withhold further financing to the country over the misused funds.
The money, from the last tranche released by the Global Fund, was diverted by the authorities allegedly to buy tractors and other farming implements, prompting the Swiss-based agency to warn last week that it would withhold further funding to Zimbabwe.
The country has this year qualified for US$500 million in funding for AIDS, TB and Malaria from the Global Fund, but the money may not be released due to the misused funds.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said the missing funds would be reimbursed to the Global Fund within seven days, perhaps earlier, to normalise relations between the country and the agency.
“Zimbabwe pledges to sustain continued dialogue with the Global Fund through clearance of all obligations amounting to around US$6.5 million over the next seven days in order to open a new progressive chapter with the donor community in the health sector,” he said.
The diversion of the funds had led to heated exchanges between the Global Fund and the government in recent weeks, with the former, backed by powerful Western nations opposed to Zimbabwe over human rights, threatening to withhold promised fresh funding of US$500 million.
It is unclear if the Global Fund will withdraw the threat after reimbursement.