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joint press statement on the purported ban of NGO's in Masvingo
Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisations
February 16, 2012
We note with
concern the blatantly illegal actions of Masvingo Provincial Governor,
Titus Maluleke in purporting to ban
some Non Governmental Organisations (NGO's) operating in Masvingo.
On 14 February 2012, at a press conference convened in Masvingo,
Governor Maluleke ordered the suspension of the activities of 29
NGOs for allegedly failing to register their operations with his
actions were illegal and are a nullity at law.
The law in this country
clearly shows that he has no regulatory authority; nor does he have
the power to register or de-register NGOs. Even the Provincial Council
that he heads in terms of the Provincial Councils and Administration
Act does not have regulatory powers over NGOs. The council exists
solely to foster developmental projects initiated and carried out
by central government and local government.
In fact in terms of the
law, the Governor's functions must be exercised through the
process of consultation and suggestion with the various organs of
government and not NGOs. As such he has no executive powers to suspend,
disrupt or hinder the activities of NGO's and there is no
legal obligation for an NGO to register with his office or any other
Provincial Governor's Office.
rash and ill-advised utterances merely seek to confuse matters and
are regrettably likely to worsen the humanitarian crisis prevailing
in the Masvingo Province. This is because the list of organisations
he seeks to ban include NGOs that are currently providing food,
medication and water and other social economic support to the community
- something the state itself has failed to do due to its misplaced
The actions of the Governor
are also irresponsible considering that the government and NGOs
should be coming together to fight the Socio-Economic ills bedevilling
Zimbabwe rather than him frustrating the efforts of individuals
and organisations trying their best to help out fellow Zimbabweans.
has also violated section 21 (a) of the Constitution
of Zimbabwe which guarantees freedom of assembly and association,
in that all the members and beneficiaries of the suspended NGOs
are effectively being hindered from enjoying the benefits of such
association and membership. Furthermore by illegally seeking to
suspend the activities of NGOs, the Governor has violated their
rights to freedom of movement as enshrined in Section 22 of the
Constitution. Lastly, he as a public officer, has a duty to exercise
his functions in accordance with the law and to observe and uphold
the rule of law in terms of section 18 (1a) of the Constitution.
Therefore he is also in violation of this provision as he acted
illegally and beyond the scope of his authority.
We also note that there
are reports that Governor Maluleke made the pronouncement suspending
the NGOs flanked by security forces from both the Zimbabwe Republic
Police as well as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. We wonder why this
was so. We reiterate that the role of the security forces in terms
of the constitution is to preserve security during times of war
and, for the police, to maintain law and order in Zimbabwe. Their
inclusion in the press conference is therefore curious and misplaced
and it is difficult for us not to conclude that their presence was
a strategy designed to cower and intimidate the NGOs.
This fresh onslaught
on NGOs does not surprise anyone, as it was already hinted at by
ZANU PF at its annual conference held in Bulawayo in December last
year. NGOs have weathered such attacks before, and shall do so again.
In these circumstances,
the affected NGOs should ignore the order by the Governor and continue
to carry out their life saving interventions in this province and
all others in the country.
Issued on behalf of:
Crisis In Zimbabwe
of Non Governmental Organisations
Rights NGO Forum
for Human Rights
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