Britain’s Secret Muti-Million Fund Aimed at Influencing Elections in Zimbabwe

In its June 19-25 edition, The Sunday Mail newspaper disclosed that the British government had launched a £3 million campaign fund for the so-called independent media and NGOs to influence the outcome of Zimbabwe’s forthcoming elections.In light of the denials by the British Embassy in Harare and in the public interest, the The Sunday Mail newspaper reproduced one of the several documents in its possession detailing the scope of the funding.

Below is one of those documents published on Saturday, 30 July 2011.



Strengthening Accountable Governance in Zimbabwe: Support to Civil Society Organisations and Media Actors


1. The Department for International Development (DFID) seeks a service provider for the design and delivery of a major governance programme in Zimbabwe from April 2011 to September 2013 with the possibility of extension. This programme will support civil society and media actors.

2. Civil society has an important role to play in representing the interests of Zimbabwe’s citizens in key decision-making processes. The media has an important role to play in ensuring Zimbabweans and civil society organisations can engage in these processes from an informed position. This contract will focus on strengthening the capacity of civil society and media actors in Zimbabwe.


3. The service provider is required to support the Department for International Development to deliver support to (1) Civil Society Organisations (CSOs); and (2) independent media actors in Zimbabwe. This support will represent two specific components supporting the broader DFID programme called Strengthening Accountable Governance in Zimbabwe.

4. These Terms of Reference refer to the contracted service provider as the SP and the organisations receiving DFID support and funding under this arrangement through the SP as the Implementing Partners (IPs) from hereforth.

5. The purposes of the overall Strengthening Accountable Governance programme is to strengthen the accountability of the Zimbabwean State to its citizens in a way which will make the State more responsive to its citizens’ needs and therefore more focused on reducing poverty.

6. The purpose of the foreseen DFID support to CSOs is to enable an increase of citizen engagement with the Zimbabwean State and to help their interests be more effectively represented. Simply put, the programme’s principal output would be that CSOs do more to hold the State to account. DFID support will focus on strengthening the capacity and co-ordination of key civil society organisations and their links to the Parliament, Executive and Judiciary and their engagement in key decision-making processes.

7. The purpose of the foreseen DFID support to media actors is similarly to enable an increase of citizen engagement in Zimbabwe’s key decision-making processes from a more informed perspective. Simply put, the programme’s principal output is to increase the number of Zimbabweans who can regularly access quality independent media.


8. DFID Zimbabwe, its IPs and the direct beneficiaries in Zimbabwe will be the recipients of these services.

Scope and Methodology

9. The SP will be responsible for the effective implementation of the programme, from inception to final impact assessment. This will include providing technical assistance expertise to DFID Zimbabwe and to the IPs, designing and managing implementing partners, pre-financing and disbursing the grant funds and providing full financial management during implementation phase, monitoring and evaluating project progress regularly and providing reports to DFID, working with any DFID-assigned consultants on annual review and final project reporting. It will also involve maintaining excellent and effective working relations with DFID staff and a range of partner organisations and being the first point of contact for enquiries about the funds. Ultimately, the SP is responsible to ensure that resources provided through the programme support the aims in a cost-effective and sustainable way.

10. The range of activities that DFID will fund under this programme through the SP may include but not be limited to: violence monitoring and reporting, conflict mediation, peace building, civic and voter education, voter observation, capacity building, social research, independent print media, independent broadcast media, alternative forms of media and communication, and increased accountability through improved public financial management.

11. The SP will take into consideration relevant studies, political sensitivities, and the fragile context of Zimbabwe and co-ordinate with ongoing programmes of support to CSOs and media from other sources.

12. Due to the political uncertainty, DFID Zimbabwe is not yet able to prescribe all elements of this project in detail. Indeed, an important aspect of the programme is to enable DFID to be responsive as the complex political context as it evolves. The SP will have to be flexible to the external environment, able to adjust as needs evolve and able to respond rapidly.

13. The SP together with DFID Zimbabwe will select the IPs using an agreed, open and transparent method of selection against explicit criteria.

14. A DFID Zimbabwe Programme Officer will have overall responsibility for co-ordination and oversight of the SPs’ management of the programme and a DFID Zimbabwe Governance Advisor will be responsible for managing the SP’s technical aspects of the programme with broader assistance when appropriate from across HMG in Harare including FCO Political Officers. If deemed necessary and on occasion, DFID Zimbabwe may contract additional expertise for a specified time in a particular activity area we are interested in supporting or we may contract consultants to conduct reviews (including annual reviews and project completion reports). Under such circumstances, the SP will provide full access and support upon instruction from the DFID Programme Officer.

15. The SP will deliver the specific programme functions and objectives listed in the Deliverables section at the end of these Terms of Reference.

Timeframe and Financing

16. The initial contract for the SP will be 30 months from date of award (April 2011 to 30 September 2013). Interested service providers are directed to bid against an indicative total size for the CSO/media fund of £4, 5 million with a roadmap of release of £3 million from May 2011 to March 2012 and £1,5 million from April 2012 to March 2013. The period from April 2013 to September 2013 will be reserved for evaluation.

17. The SP will provide advance funding to the IPs (either soured from their own capital or from acquired funds.) on a quarterly basis. The SP should assume a period by which DFID will pay an invoice to the SP of not more than 10 business days unless there are queries to be resolved on the substance. In special circumstances and prior DFID approval, the SP may provide funding to IPs less than quarterly (for example for every short-term project or when the administration of quarterly payment compromises IP speed delivery.)

18. Methodology used to calculate any pre-financing charges should be presented, with evidence of market charges that a company like the SP would expect to pay. Where the pre-financing costs reflect charges for perceived risk to the SP in terms of fraud or other financial mismanagement by implementing partners, this should be made clear.

19. Upon successful completion of the contract September 2013 there will be the possibility to negotiate up to an additional 24 months contract extension with a revision of agreed volumes and inputs between the SP and DFID Zimbabwe required for activity beyond September 2013. The extension option is viable so long as DFID Zimbabwe continues to fund either CSOs operating in governance fields or media actors after the original programme finishes. If an extension is foreseen then the period April 2013 to September 2013 may involve further pre-financing and grant disbursement.

20. The SP will provide the staff and pre-financing required for their own offices, staff, equipment, transport and accommodation.
Work permits and conflict of interest

21. The SP will be responsible for obtaining work permits for any international staff that they might wish to recruit.

22. Neither the selected SP nor its employees/associates will be eligible to receive funds due to the conflict of interest would present.

Deliverables (specific tasks) Management and accommodation

Ensure that the programme is effectively managed in a manner that satisfies DFID’s accounting and procurement requirements and functions on a timely basis.

Source, contact, administer and manage such technical expertise as may be required to effectively implement the programme and provide analysis back to DFID Zimbabwe and technical assistance to IPs through the lifetime of the programme.
Given the sensitive nature of the activities that some of the IPs may implement, the SP will need to ensure high quality systems to protect facilities and ensure personal security.

Ensure that DFID Zimbabwe is kept informed of relevant issues that are likely to affect the implementation of the project (communication with DFID project staff may require weekly meetings).

Pursue co-ordination and complimentarily with other donors active in similar areas.

Co-ordinate, monitor and maintain an overview of the programme and IP activities to ensure better coherence and deeper partnerships.
Provide necessary support to regular programme review and a final evaluation through logistical, accommodation and operational advice.

Act as the first point of contact for inquiries from potential IPs about the fund.

Produce an inception report after the first three months of the contract. The report will clearly set out the proposed work programme for the remainder of the contract.

The SP will also conduct other management task as agreed with DFID Zimbabwe through the duration of the contact.

Financial management and institutional capacity

Ensure that potential shortlisted IPs are thoroughly reviewed and assessed in order to minimise fiduciary risk including a thorough financial assessment (that we assess if potential partners have adequate and transparent institutional and governance structures, together with robust and reliable financial internal control systems, annual accounts and legal status). The SP must ensure due diligence is met in vetting of potential IPs.

Ensure the institutional capacity of the potential IPs are thoroughly reviewed to ensure sufficient capacity existed effectively fulfil their organisations objectives (this includes strategic planning, human resource management, etc).

The SP will be required to advice selected IPs on financial accounting, reporting, procurement and other compliance practices associated with the project.

Review and approve budgets, work plans and financial reporting and accounting systems of implementing partners to ensure activities are implemented on a timely and cost-effective basis in compliance with financial accountability requirements.

Provide advance funding to implementing partners on a quarterly basis in compliance with financial accountability requirements.

Provide advance funding to implementing partners on a quarterly basis and ensure that all funds are accounted for and that financial reports are submitted in agreed format to DFID Zimbabwe.

Award of funds to implementing partners

Grant disbursement award following competitive call for proposal route. Then the SP will design in conjunction with DFID Zimbabwe the process for selecting IPs through a competitive call which will occur on a DFID demand, up to twice a year. The first call will commence no later than six weeks after award of contract. The process should be as transparent as possible with judgment of all methods of attracting proposals taken between the SP and DFID Zimbabwe. The design of selection process will include:

Identification of criteria against which all proposals will be assessed.

An initial shifting process (shortlisting) followed by more detailed appraisal of shortlisted candidates.

Provide DFID Zimbabwe with a report detailing funding recommendations and establish statistical breakdown of proposals received ahead of the Project Board meeting.

Convening a forum, a Project Board, to review all received proposals from calls and the SP’s technical appraisal, due diligence checks and final recommendations. For a quorum at any meeting of the Project Board, no less than two DFID officers must be present along with one British Political Officer.

Designing the voting/decision-making procedure to be agreed by DFID Zimbabwe for the Project Board to approve grant funds to IP’s where DFID Zimbabwe retains a final veto on any proposal.

DFID Zimbabwe must fast track award route. Disburse funding to specific projects identified by DFID Zimbabwe for fast track (outside of the competitive calls for proposals) subject to the passing of SP’s due diligence checks.

This facility will provide a high degree of flexibility to DFID Zimbabwe to quickly disburse funding to projects deemed singular in that only the one organisation will be in a position to run the project or deemed necessary to ensure immediate support. (It envisioned that the call for proposals route will fund the vast majority of IPs and the fast track route a small number of proposals).

Acknowledge receipt, log and file received proposals and accompanying documents, checking that proposals adhere to the prescribed length and format.

Maintain database of all enquiries, proposals and subsequent correspondence.

Undertake a full and comprehensive technical appraisal of all proposals and manage a quality control process to ensure consistency of recommendations. This includes a comprehensive review of both the proposal’s logical framework and the budget. It should also recommend technical assistance that is considered necessary to address weaknesses in the organisation’s institutional capacity to fulfil its objectives.

Provide feedback to all rejected applicants within six weeks of decision. The SP must be able to produce rejection letters which are worded sensitively, in plain English and can be used constructively by the applicant.

Prepare and provide the DFID Programme Officer with pre-funding letters to successful organisations, listing issues to be resolved before funding can be finally agreed. The DFID Programme Officer will provide a template.

Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation

Develop standardised monitoring and reporting systems for all IPs and, where feasible, use common indicators to assess impact. In addition, the SP will be expected to answer ad hoc requests regarding guidelines, application processes and reporting formats throughout the year.

All IPs will be required to produce a quarterly narrative and financial report and a final report detailing progress towards the outputs in their project logistical framework and impact towards the overall outcomes. These reports will be submitted to the SP who will appraise and file partners’ reports including financial statements, and manage a quality control process to ensure IP reporting consistency, timeliness and high standard (including given technical feedback on the IP reports). Upon receipt of the IP quarterly report the SP will release the next tranche of funding to the IP.

In special circumstances and with prior SP and DFID approval, the IPs may report to the SP less than quarterly. For example, for very short-term IP projects or at particularly critical times (such as around elections) when the burden of quarterly reporting payment compromises IP project delivery.

Compile from these IP financial and narrative reports quarterly technical, financial and narrative reports for DFID Zimbabwe detailing any key issues raised by each organisation, points of interest/concern and areas of innovative (format to be agreed with DFID Zimbabwe).

Respond to an additional and ad hoc reporting request that DFID Zimbabwe deems necessary.

Upon DFID Zimbabwe’s request (not less than twice a year but more than four times a year) convene meeting for the Project Board at which the SP Project Manager will lead a presentation on the overall programme progress and financials to date from the most recent SP financial and narrative reports.

DFID Zimbabwe will retain responsibility for routine DFID internal project cycle management and will arrange annual output to purpose reviews and other reviews as may be required in line with DFID reporting requirements. The SP will provide logistical support to these processes including full support to any consultant that might be employed directly by DFID to undertake such reviews.
As part of this contract the successful bidder will be expected to make members of their team available to take part in monitoring visits and spot checks on IPs. Agreed specific terms of reference will be produced for each proposed monitoring visit.

Capacity building

As necessary and with DFID Zimbabwe agreement recommend and facilitate organisational development and capacity building in IPs. This can be provided by the SP’s staff or contracted in from recognised providers.

Preference should be shown to national and regional expertise. Design and facilitate monitoring and evaluation seminars for IPs to learn their reporting requirement under the fund.

Organise workshops and meetings with IPs to review challenges and progress and facilitate lesson learning and innovative among IPs in similar technical areas of support.