Government cracks down on NGOs


0

The government intensified its crackdown on non-governmental organisations towards the end of 2002 with food seizures in Insiza and the halting of food aid in Binga, and piled pressure on human rights organisations like Amani Trust.

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was quoted by the Sunday Mail as saying: “We must now do something about all these NGOs which are receiving British dirty money to destabilize Zimbabwe.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE2337, RULING PARTY STEPS UP ATTACKS AGAINST NGOS

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE2337

2002-10-24 08:40

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002337

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2012

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL EAID ECON ASEC ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: RULING PARTY STEPS UP ATTACKS AGAINST NGOS

 

REF: HARARE 2311

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

SUMMARY:

——–

1. (C) A recent ZANU-PF theft of WFP food in Nsiza and GOZ

orders to halt NGO food distribution in Binga come amid a

looming general GOZ crackdown on NGOs. In mid September the

GOZ issued a notice for all NGOs to register with the

Ministry of Social Welfare, or cease operations. It appears

that the GOZ is cracking down on NGOs that embarrass or are

critical of government. A tightening crackdown against NGOs

distributing food under the WFP program would be the most

troubling, as it would lead to starvation. End Summary.

 

RULING PARTY DISRUPTS NGO FOOD DISTRIBUTION

——————————————-

2. (U) On October 4 local authorities ordered Save the

Children U.K. to halt food distribution in the Matabeleland

North town of Binga, five months after forcing the Catholic

Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) to stop distribution

efforts in the same town. Authorities accused both

organizations of supporting the opposition MDC–a charge they

both deny as contrary to their policy of political

neutrality. However, according to a Catholic priest in

Binga, two CCJP volunteers who did community organizing and

food distribution work in the Binga area, and were paid a

stipend of ZWD$5,000 (about US$5.00) per month, won MDC

council seats in the September rural council elections.

Zimbabwe Country Director of Save the Children, UK., Chris

McIvor, met with the Minister of Social Welfare and other GOZ

officials last week and is optimistic about restarting their

food distribution in Binga soon. Tarcisius Zimbiti, Zimbabwe

Country Director of the CCJP, said he was waiting for the

“dust to settle” before pursuing a restart of their feeding

programs. According to Chris Bowley, Emergencies Manager at

Save the Children UK., Binga has not received food for the

past two months. On October 16, the independent Daily News

reported that two people in Binga had died recently of

starvation, and that school children were fainting at their

desks from hunger.

 

3. (U) On October 18, ZANU-PF supporters in Insiza stole

three metric tons of food from WFP implementing partner the

Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), and

distributed it to ZANU-PF supporters. WFP halted all food

distribution in Insiza and requested assurances from GOZ

against further incidents of this kind. Insiza will host a

parliamentary by-election on October 26-27. (More details on

this incident are provided reftel).

 

CRACKDOWN ON NGOs

—————–

4. (C) The Insiza theft, and Binga halt orders come amid a

general crackdown on NGOs and moves to control their

activities. Recently addressing the 51st ordinary session of

the ruling party, President Mugabe acknowledged the integral

role of NGOs in assistance programs, but accused some NGOs of

inappropriately campaigning for a change of the ‘elected’

government. On October 18, the state-controlled newspaper

The Herald, reported the Minister of Social Welfare, July

Moyo as saying there were some NGOs whose agenda was mainly

to destabilize the country and the government was not going

to allow such covert activities. The state-controlled

newspaper, The Sunday Mail, and The Herald, have recently

carried a barrage of criticism of Amani Trust, a prominent

human rights organization which counsels torture victims and

publicizes human rights violations, for being funded by the

UK. and U.S. and for “being involved in the politics of

Zimbabwe.” On October 13, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo

was quoted in The Sunday Mail as saying, “we must now do

something about all these NGOs which are receiving British

dirty money to destabilize Zimbabwe.”

 

5. (C) In mid September the GOZ issued a notice requiring all

NGOs to register with the Ministry of Social Welfare under

the Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO) Act, or cease

operations. The registration process takes about 8 months

and NGOs complain it allows the GOZ to direct their programs

by giving the GOZ access to NGO budgets, funding sources, and

allowing GOZ representation on NGO governing boards. Most

NGOs are currently registered as trusts with the Registrar of

Deeds and enjoy relative freedom from formal GOZ control.

The PVO Act, which has been in force in current form since

1996, is very broad, covering any organization providing

social services, development or relief assistance, or legal

aid. Some private companies might be covered, but trusts,

churches, schools, and health services providers are

excepted. There are differing interpretations over which

organizations the Act actually covers. Most NGOs have

ignored the registration requirement but it is clear that the

GOZ now intends to enforce it. To clarify enforcement

issues, the Attorney General’s office is re-drafting the

legislation and is supposed to have a version ready in the

coming weeks. (Note: While the National Association of NGOs

(NANGO) has submitted language, the AG’s office has not

consulted formally with any NGOs and it seems likely, given

the high-profile politics of this issue, that the new

legislation will be even more draconian than the present.

End Note.)

 

COMMENT:

——–

6. (C) It appears that the GOZ intends to crack down on NGOs

it considers thorns in its side–those that are openly

critical of government, that publicize information which

embarrasses the government or that the government does not

fully control. The GOZ also appears unwilling to tolerate

NGOs with any connection to the MDC, although it does not

apply the same standard to NGOs who employ, or are connected

to ZANU-PF members. Many organizations funded by the U.S.

Government which play a key role in treating human rights

victims and keeping space open for expression of alternative

views are likely to comprise the hit list. Most NGOs with

which we cooperate are biding their time, hoping their input

into the new law will make it palatable. If this effort

fails, we suspect they will try to find a way around the

registration requirement or go underground.

 

7. (C) Further attacks, and a tightening crackdown against

NGOs distributing food under the WFP program would be the

most troubling, as slowing or halting their operations would

most likely lead to starvation in affected areas. End

Comment.

SULLIVAN

(31 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+
Google+
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *