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ZPP warns against crackdown on NGOs

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BY VANESSA GONYE

THE Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has warned that the crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) by government will stifle efforts to assist vulnerable citizens, who are beneficiaries of civic organisations’ projects.

This was revealed in the ZPP July report released this week.

While NGOs operating in some parts of the country have not been threatened with shutdown, Harare provincial co-ordinator Tafadzwa Muguti last month warned local and international organisations in the capital that if they failed to report to his office to outline how they operate, they will be banned.

The ZPP report said banning NGOs would escalate human rights abuses in the country.

“Harassment, intimidation, unlawful arrests, beatings and aid discrimination have become some of the most common human rights violations that ZPP has recorded in the past months and the trend, unfortunately, continued in July 2021,” read the ZPP report.

“About 99,5% of this month’s victims of human rights violations are ordinary citizens. The citizens of Zimbabwe have become more and more voiceless, and this comes in the wake of much more overt attempts by government and the ruling party to shut down the operating space for civil society and the opposition.”

It said civic society organisations (CSOs) played a pivotal role in ensuring good governance for the country.

“By criminalising, and stifling the work of civil society, government denies citizens a chance to enjoy the vital services provided by civil society organisations in all sectors.”

ZPP said it was extremely worried about attempts to criminalise the activities of NGOs in the country, at a time when the ruling Zanu PF party is already pushing for enactment of a Patriotic Bill.

“If passed, the law will effectively gag Zimbabweans from criticising government.”

Last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa threatened a crackdown on NGOs, adding that a Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill would be crafted to regulate the operations of NGOs.

He said it would regulate “‘the conduct of some NGOs and PVOs which operate outside their mandates and out of sync with the government’s humanitarian priority programmes”.

ZPP said it was worried that Mnangagwa had already whittled down the powers of the Judiciary and Parliament through recent amendments of the Constitution.

“ZPP recommends that government should realise that its role is not to further political party interests, but the interests of every Zimbabwean,” it said.

Follow Vanessa on Twitter @vanessa_gonye

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