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announces new controls over charities, non-governmental organizations
International Herald Tribune
April 28, 2007
Zimbabwe announced new controls Saturday to clamp down on charities
and non-governmental organizations, including democracy and human
rights groups, that the government accuses of campaigning against
Under a new
code of procedure, voluntary organizations need a state license,
which can be denied, thus barring them from operating.
The code, issued
in an official government notice available Saturday, follows recent
warnings from several senior officials against charities engaging
in political advocacy, saying some groups came to Zimbabwe with
food aid in one hand and what they called a "regime change agenda"
in the other.
Mugabe has frequently accused Britain, the European Union and the
United States of funding charities to work alongside his opponents
in a Western-sponsored campaign to oust him.
the code, existing charities already registered by law with the
government would not have their licenses automatically revoked by
the notice, as had been feared. But their activities could be reviewed.
agencies are not affected. The code requires foreign organizations
setting up in Zimbabwe to sign a memorandum of understanding with
government departments working in their social or welfare fields
and provide accounts of their funding and a clearance letter from
the International Police Organization and other details on their
history and background.
groups and pro-democracy pressure groups routinely assist victims
of state-orchestrated political violence with food and shelter,
medical assistance and trauma counseling.
The code would
bring them under state control for the first time under existing
charity laws, known as the Private
Voluntary Organizations Act, analysts said.
for Human Rights group, who provide free legal aid to victims
and help channel food and medicine to jailed opposition activists,
would also likely be targeted.
Most of those
organizations currently operate under regulations covering private
media licensing laws enforced since
2003, four independent
newspapers, including the only independent daily, have been shut
down, and scores of independent journalists have been arrested,
intimidated and assaulted.Most foreign journalists are denied visas
to travel to Zimbabwe on assignment under media and immigration
suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980,
with acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline, medicines
and most other basic goods. Official inflation is 2,200, the highest
in the world.
governor Gideon Gono said Friday the government used scarce hard
currency to buy 500,000 metric tons of staple food - mostly corn
- to avert starvation in coming months.
the government itself of using food as a political weapon, especially
surrounding elections, charges Mugabe denies.
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