Govt shoots self in the foot on NGOs

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s threats to deregister so-called “rogue NGOs” made sad reading given the complementary role these organisations play in the country.

Mnangagwa’s utterances, made at a politburo meeting on Wednesday, came hard on the heels of an onslaught on the NGOs by his administration, particularly provincial development co-ordinators (PDCs), who railroaded their representatives to meetings countrywide.

In Masvingo, for instance, PDC Jefter Sakupwanya reportedly labelled some NGOs “bad apples”.

Such a crackdown by a government struggling to feed its people during the COVID-19 pandemic boggles the mind.

In fact, government is shooting itself in the foot given the large amounts of aid being poured into the country through these NGOs.

Top government officials, who are living in luxury, are out of touch with reality. The masses are struggling and NGOs are helping them big time, filling the gap left by a corrupt government.

Ask the ordinary citizen, and they will tell you how much they are being helped by the humanitarian agencies. Cyclone Idai victims, Chingwizi villagers and the urban poor who are getting cash transfers will tell you the importance of these NGOs that you want to expel for political expediency.

Even the rural folks are benefiting from the cash programme, WASH activities, nutritional gardens, among other NGO-initiated projects. Talk of an NGO ban is nothing but sheer vanity.

It is time the Mnangagwa administration stopped burying its head in the sand. Actually, the government is biting the hand that feeds it. Given the high unemployment in the country spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, a ban on NGOs will leave their local staffers out of work.

Many will question: What is it that government is afraid of? Even those NGOs in the democracy and governance sector are playing an oversight role which is not only beneficial to the citizens, but to government as well since they help it fulfil its promises. Is the government averse to criticism?

Please, Mnangagwa, stop being a populist in a bid to please your followers who are the only beneficiaries of your partisan food handouts, and listen to the voice of reason.

This is the voice of the people, which you acknowledged is the voice of God! After all, you promised to be a listening President. Listen to the voices of the multitudes that are benefiting from the humanitarian efforts of the NGOs and stop persecuting them for refusing to pander to your whims.

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