Activists slam unscrupulous NGOs exploiting Zim refugees in SA

asylumSeveral activists and MDC officials in South Africa have slammed an NGO that allegedly manipulated the plight of Zimbabwean refugees there to raise funds for a repatriation programme.

MDC SA Chairman Austin Moyo told Newsreel on Friday that hundreds of Zimbabwean refugees at the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg were duped into going back home, on the back of a promise of R7000, computers, printers and scanners, to start internet cafs back home.

Recently two buses packed with the refugees made the long journey back to Zimbabwe. On arrival back home none of the promises were delivered, instead the refugees were given R200 to use as bus fare to travel to their respective villages. Within a few days most of the refugees were back in South Africa at the Central Methodist Church, which has become home for thousands over the years. Some reports said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration may have helped fund the repatriation programme.

UNHCR and IOM officials are yet to comment on the matter but sources say the equipment for the refugees was bought some time back, but for some reason has not made its way to the intended beneficiaries.

Newsreel sought comment from Elliot Moyo, whose organization raised the funds for the repatriation. He told us he was in a meeting and could only speak to us after our Friday broadcast. Moyo however promised us a response by Monday. MDC SA spokesman Sibanengi Dube told us it was a very common problem to have NGOs raising money, using the plight of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa, and later diverting the money for their own use. He said they were investigating the latest case to see where the money and computers went to.

The Zimbabwean crisis has seen the mushrooming of hundreds of NGOs in and outside the country. Although some are genuinely involved in helping the situation, several unscrupulous individuals have also created room for themselves to divert money from donors meant to help people in need.

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