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threatens to ban NGOs again
July 29, 2009
President Robert Mugabe
has raised the spectre of banning the operations of non-governmental
organizations in Zimbabwe, a threat he implemented in 2008 after
the worst maize harvest on record.
"We have now a phenomenon
of NGOs, or shall I call them phenomena, for they really are a type
of government in the background of a formal government. I don't
know whether this creature is for the better or for the worse, but
in our country we have seen a situation where they have exceeded
their terms of reference, and perhaps we might have to reconsider
the advisability of having NGOs."
Mugabe raised the question
while speaking on the theme of "Inclusivity and national visions"
at the Global 2009 Dialogue conference at the Munyonyo resort on
the shores of Lake Victoria on 27 July.
advocacy and marketing manager of the National
Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO), an NGO
umbrella organization, told IRIN: "If NGOs are banned then
that would jeopardize the livelihoods of millions of Zimbabweans
to the point of being catastrophic. Millions of Zimbabweans depend
on NGOs for food, medication, education, human rights and democracy
Mugabe banned all NGO
operations on 4 June 2008, a few weeks before the presidential run-off
election - although he later excluded organizations concerned with
HIV/AIDS, children, the disabled, and care of the elderly - after
accusing NGOs of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic
The ban was lifted on
29 August 2008 after Mugabe was re-elected unopposed to the presidency.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai - now prime minister - won the first
round of the presidential election but withdrew from the run-off
in protest over the murder of his supporters and the high levels
The ban disrupted preparations
by the donor community for emergency food assistance to nearly 7
2008, Mugabe's ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's MDC signed the Global
Political Agreement, which laid the foundation for the formation
of the unity government in February 2009.
"It's obvious that
the coalition government has failed to demonstrate that it can preside
over donor money in a transparent manner, which is why some organizations
and governments which want to support the people of Zimbabwe would
rather channel their money through NGOs," said Ngirande.
Tsvangirai received pledges
of about US$500,000 for humanitarian relief on his recent trip to
Europe and the US, but the money is to be distributed via humanitarian
organizations and NGOs.
Ngirande dismissed Mugabe's
comments comparing NGOs to a parallel government. "It is certainly
true that more Zimbabweans are depending on the NGO community for
support, an activity which should be carried out by the government."
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