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US envoy slams NGOs ban

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SHURUGWI — United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray on Wednesday castigated threats to ban non-governmental organisations operating in the country.

Ray said he found it disturbing that the government can consider stopping assistance meant to benefit disadvantaged communities.

“I find it quite unusual that someone can tell those who come with assistance to cease operations. One wonders the intended benefits of such a move,” Ray told journalists on the sidelines of a visit to a market gardening project in Shurugwi South. In February, Masvingo provincial governor Titus Maluleke suspended 29 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) over allegations of operating without licences from his office. Maluleke accused the NGOs of failing to comply with new government regulations that compel NGOs to work with traditional leaders, district administrators and local authorities.

Meanwhile, Ray hailed women who established the 67-member Takaza Garden project, saying they should be given a special place in any society as they were development pillars.

“Lift up a man and you help an individual. Lift up a woman and you improve the entire village,” he said.
“Whether the issue is good governance or resource allocation, the concerns of women matter, not just to women alone but to the future survival of a nation and in this case to the village of Takaza.”

In 2010, the women received a $7 560 grant from the American Embassy through the Ambassador’s Self Help Grant programme, which they used to acquire garden implements.

Through proceeds from the project, the women have managed to buy themselves household goods, pay school fees and supported orphans and the vulnerable in their community.

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