Governor of Masvingo ‘suspends’ 29 NGOs

Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke this week suspended 29 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from operating in the province, after he accused them of failing to register with the local authorities.

Maluleke announced the action at a meeting on Tuesday, attended by NGO officials from Masvingo as well as senior officers from the army, police and prison services. He read out a list of 29 local and international groups that he said had failed to sign the memoranda of understanding required by the provincial authorities. The presence of military officials and soldiers in uniform has been a strategy used by ZANU PF to instill fear in people, especially during elections.

Cephas Zinhumwe, executive director of the National Association of NGOs (NANGO) who was at the Masvingo meeting, told SW Radio Africa that the suspensions came as a surprise to their members and he said they would enter into negotiations with provincial authorities to resolve the crisis.

Zinhumwe said he did not know whether the suspended NGOs were required to stop operations immediately or shut down offices while working on their memoranda. He also refused to name the groups suspended by the governor.

“For me to name the NGOs now might probably affect negotiations that we are going to have. Some people might have already put names on the internet but as NANGO we want a normal environment for our members to operate peacefully in,” Zinhumwe explained.

Asked whether the MOUs are required by Zimbabwean law, he said over the years they were required only from international NGOs that wanted to work in Zimbabwe, and were submitted to the particular ministry the NGO was to cooperate with.

It is feared that the action taken in Masvingo might spread to other provinces as ZANU PF prepares for elections. – SW Radio Africa News

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