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State to clamp down on NGOs
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
Extracted from Crisis in Zimbabwe Weekly Update
July 18, 2004

The State is sharpening its daggers in preparation for a clamp down on Non-Governmental Organisations that are not registered in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisations Act. In addition a new law to closely monitor the operations of NGOs and churches is also being drafted to ensure that the organisation do not engage in covert political activities.

This turn of events leaves a sense of de ja vu of days when the government swooped down on the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe stable. The State is going into overdrive as it tries to tighten its grip on freedom of expression.

Prior to closing down the newspapers, the State embarked on a smear campaign. The State media was awash with negative reports on the newspaper stable. The campaign was aimed at buying legitimacy from the people so that ANZ was seen as a force that was working at destabilising the State. Jonathan Moyo, the minister of Information and Publicity in the Presidentís Office, embarked on a propaganda roller coaster aimed at showing ANZ in negative light. Having laid down the groundwork, ANZ papers were closed through the courts.

There are striking similarities in the way the government has started building up hype against NGOs and churches through its mouthpieces. It is only a matter of time before it moves to outlaw any perceived hurdles in its quest for a totalitarian grip on the nation.

The fact that the regime intends to impose stooges on NGO boards stinks to the high heavens. There is no justification for deploying prefects to monitor the activities of churches. This is the ultimate mark of a despotic government, which knows that information is power and therefore has to be extinguished if it does not serve the Stateís needs. Once again Zimbabwe inches closer to the death of democracy and total silencing of the voices of dissent.

It is vital to understand that the governmentís actions are totally driven by an ever-growing obsession with election victory. It is therefore prepared to employ any tactic in the book to rid itself of perceived obstacles and these include the civil society, the media and easy access to information. In the last six weeks the government has made bold steps to tighten all three and seems to be winning.

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