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Zanu-PF repeats threats against NGOs
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
December 13, 2012

Zanu-PF has resolved to deregister NGOs that the party deems "errant", but civil society has said they will not brook threats, which are against SADC principles, and only aimed at derailing their work.

The recently ended 13th Zanu-PF national people's conference resolved in Gweru, that it, "instructs the party to ensure that Government enforces deregistration of errant NGOs deviating from their mandate."

Crisis Coalition Spokesperson Thabani Nyoni has rubbished the threats noting that the issue of threats is not new to NGOs. Nyoni warned Zanu-PF against muzzling independent voices, and disturbing development practitioners and humanitarian work and cautioned that Zanu-PF intentions are against the SADC protocol.

"It is a testament to the fact that ZANU PF political leadership is in defiance of the values and principles respected and recognized by SADC such as freedom of assembly, association as well active citizen participation that CSOs work to achieve. Perhaps the message from ZANU PF is that they are a party that leaves in fear of its fellow citizens, in fear of allowing public truth to be known, in fear of the will of the citizens and in fear of diversity and divergence. This attitude and approach is a reflection of leadership bankruptcy and a party that is caught in a time warp and unable to see that things are changing," said Nyoni.

Nyoni added that, comments by Cde Gumbo are a reflection of the attitude of ZANU PF as a party and system of delegitimizing and criminalizing plurality and diversity of political and public opinion as represented by CSOs and other forms of media and political groupings is the very reason why the country's political process are under curatorship of the SADC through the Zuma mediation team.

Zanu-PF Spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo on Thursday, November 12 said the party is targeting "all organizations that are being funded from outside the country. "Asked on what Zanu-PF considered as errant organizations, which are diverting from their mandate, Gumbo said:

"We are going to deregister all organizations that are being funded by outside donors, including organisations like Crisis Coalition. We know that you NGOs are pushing for regime change, through conducting seminars disguised as platforms to talk about good governance. Who brought good governance and democracy to Zimbabwe from Ian Smith? - the answer is ZANU-PF."

Gumbo could not reveal where NGOs must get funding from and instead asked why NGOs need funding when their existence is not even necessary. The Zanu-PF spokesperson could not also say why the state allowed non-governmental organizations to be registered in the first place if they are deemed irrelevant.

Thabani Nyoni told the Crisis Report that such threats are a sign of double standards for Zanu-PF to say that the party does not respect and believe in NGOs yet ZANU-PF itself has actually formed its "own proxy NGOs that have become megaphones of its ideology" and are allegedly coaching citizens on what to believe and say. Nyoni added that the resolution by Zanu-PF was also an evidence of hypocrisy by the party.

"When ZANU PF says that it does not believe in CSOs and they are not necessary, we find this puzzling in that ZANU PF participates in a number of activities organized by CSOs, using these spaces to promulgate is position. About being foreign funded, perhaps there is some intellectual dishonesty here. We say this because, successive ZANU PF governments have been receiving foreign funding for budgetary support and even to fund their vote buying escapades and no one has even labeled them foreign sponsored agents who are pushing a foreign capital accumulation agenda."

The recent resolution is not the first by a Zanu-PF national people's conference and as such, resolution is a reiteration of the decision by the 12th Zanu-PF national people's conference in December 2011, in Bulawayo. Barely two months following the resolution, there was a crackdown on NGOs as evidenced by the declaration in February 2012 by Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke to ban 29 NGOs from operating in the Masvingo province. Since then, the crackdown on NGOs has escalated nationwide as characterized by the wave of raids on several NGOs and the arrests of a number of civil society leaders by the police.

In February 2012, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, and Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) issued a joint statement condemning Governor Maluleke's decree.

The statement read that Maluleke's actions violated sections 21 (a) and 22 of the Constitution, which guarantee the freedoms of assembly and association, and freedom of movement respectively. The civil society organisations argued that Maluleke in his official capacity as governor had no loci standi or jurisdiction over NGOs, stated anywhere in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, to register let alone de-register them. Civil society urged Maluleke as a public official to exercise his functions in accordance with the law and to observe and uphold the rule of law in terms of section 18(a) of the Constitution.

The NGOs which have been raided during the course of 2012 include Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights), Counselling Services Unit (CSU), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Election Resource Centre (ERC), and Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ). An addition to the crackdown on NGOs is the raiding of ZimRights offices, and the arrest of ZimRights Deputy National Programs Coordinator Leo Chamahwinya, on allegations of conducting illegal voter education on the 13th of December 2012.

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