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in offing to clamp down on NGOs, churches
Gift Phiri, Zimbabwe Independent
June 25, 2004
GOVERNMENT plans to
table a Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and Churches Bill in a move
that analysts say will allow it to clamp down on what it sees as errant
The Bill, which has
already been drafted and is expected to be tabled in the next parliamentary
session starting in July, will allow government to have greater influence
in the operations of NGOs and churches.
The Bill proposes
a code of conduct for all churches involved in humanitarian aid. The monitoring
of NGOs, especially those involved in food aid, "will ensure they
do not mix humanitarian work with politics".
Public Service, Labour
and Social Welfare minister Paul Mangwana said the Bill was aimed at dealing
with churches and NGOs that were inciting people to rebel against government.
"Some NGOs and
churches are causing confusion in the country because they are converting
their humanitarian programmes into politics," said Mangwana. "The
government cannot allow that to happen, so we are saying they should come
under scrutiny where we revise all the modalities of their operations
in the country. Failure to do that we are going to simply close all the
doors and not allow them in this country anymore because the Bill will
set out a code of conduct which they will be expected to stick to,"
said Mangwana in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week.
NGOs operating in
Zimbabwe have been at loggerheads with government over the past three
years, with government accusing them of promoting foreign interests and
those of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Government two years
ago ordered NGOs to register under the Private Voluntary Organisations
(PVO) Act, a law that civil society blasted as "undemocratic"
and too restrictive on the operations of NGOs.
MDC spokesperson Paul
Themba Nyathi said the Bill reflected the "pariah state" that
Zimbabwe has become.
"These are part
of attempts to turn this country into a fascist state," said Nyathi.
"Clearly the government has become paranoid and is trying to control
virtually all aspects of life. This is how fascists or dictators behave."
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