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marks the NGO expo 2004
Prior to this
years’ NGO Expo waves of hope had run through civil society in an
effort to lobby for a NGO-friendly environment. But the event that
was supposed to demonstrate the vital impact of NGOs and their work
in Zimbabwe was stained by disappointment and frustration. Lack
of interest from the government and the public left the participants
6 October one could see cars and lorries loading equipment and exhibition
materials into the big halls at Show Ground Exhibition Park
in Harare, which was hosting the third national NGO Expo from the
7 - 9 October 2004. The whole day people were busy building up their
stands and showing a lot of creativity and in order to display the
nature and profits of their work.
The aim of the
NGO Expo, which has been a yearly event since 2001, is to provide
a forum for local and international NGOs to meet, share experiences
and especially to inform the public about their work and activities.
Although the number of participating organizations has increased
from year to year, NANGO (National Association of Non Governmental
Organizations) as the initiator of the expo would like many
more NGOs to be engaged. This year less than 100 organizations attended
the expo, which is still a higher number as compared to previous
years. But considering the total number of more than a thousand
NGO’s operating in Zimbabwe today the participation of less than
100 organisations is still fairly low.
in previous years MS-Zimbabwe encouraged it’s partners to attend
the expo as active members of civil society. The expo provides good
opportunities to network and share experiences with other NGOs as
well as to create linkages with other stakeholders. Especially for
partners coming from outside Harare the possibility to meet other
local and international NGOs. This year 12 partners were able to
year the stage was set for a two-folded agenda due to the present
state of affairs, that is the need to act upon the proposed NGO-bill.
NANGO therefore decided to run a symposium alongside the traditional
included various dialog sessions and talks on topical issues concerning
the NGO environment such as: 1) life after the NGO-bill, 2) the
way forward for NGO’s, 3) poverty orientation, 4) corporate governance,
5) follow up on HIV/Aids conference.
objective of the symposium was to provide information to the different
stakeholders and to throw light on the vital role of NGO’s in development.
event was the announced attendance of Minister Mangwana (Minister
of Public Services and Social Welfare) who was invited as Guest
of Honour to officially open the Expo on Friday 8 October. NANGO’s
aim was to engage the ministry as well as other politicians to come
and learn about the nature and importance of NGO work in Zimbabwe.
In other words
NANGO and it’s partners did not want to miss the chance to use the
Expo as a convenient opportunity to demonstrate the impact of local
and international organisations and advocate for a more NGO friendly
atmosphere at this years’ national NGO-Expo was marked by emptiness
and disillusionment. Even though many stands displayed impressive
and quality exhibitions, this could not cover up for the empty spaces
left in between due missing stands. Some organisations never turned
up and the number of less than 100 participating NGOs was not too
impressive considering the total number of civic organisations operating
in Zimbabwe today.
NANGO and others the limited attendance of NGOs relates to the current
political environment as well as financial constraints. Due to the
present economic problems that most NGOs are facing the production
of exhibition materials as well as the travel expenses for those
coming from outside Harare are costs the majority of local organisations
was the limited attendance of visitors from the public and the private
sector. NGOs actually spent more time on visiting each other’s stands
and network amongst themselves compared to showing their exhibitions
and work to visitors from outside. Part of the reason for the limited
number of visitors might be the venue because the Show Grounds are
situated relatively far from town. Secondly a Travel expo was taking
place on the same days and this event did attract quite a lot people
after working hours. Another important factor was the reluctant
attitude shown by local media. The press and the television did
not show much interest in announcing and covering the event. NANGO
realised that in future there is a need to put more effort into
advertisement and information in order to secure higher attention
by the public.
disappointment though was the lack of interest demonstrated by the
Ministry and other invited politicians who never came to view the
expo. On Friday people waited in vain until they realised that no
representative from the Ministry would facilitate the official opening.
Linked to this disappointing sign of ignorance was the news of the
intentions by government to tighten the proposed NGO-bill to a stricter
version. After all the work NANGO and other NGOs had put into lobbying
government and parliamentarians as well as informing the public
in an effort to revise the proposed bill these news left NGOs disillusioned.
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