NGO’s urged to defy suspension by Masvingo governor

This week’s suspension of 29 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Masvingo province had no basis in law and was done by an individual with no authority, a lawyer’s group announced in Harare on Thursday.

The statement was made in response to Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke, who on Tuesday summoned NGOs in the province to a meeting, where he said 29 of them had been suspended, after failing to submit memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to the local authorities.

At a media briefing at the offices of the Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights (ZLHR), Professor Lovemore Madhuku described the suspensions as “a mere statement” made by an “ordinary man” with no power to regulate NGOs.

The lawyers issued a defiant statement that said Masvingo Governor Maluleke had violated section 21 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which guarantees freedom of assembly and association. They urged NGOs that were suspended to ignore the ban.

The director of the ZLHR, Irene Petras, expressed concern that Governor Maluleke had chosen to announce the suspensions in the presence of senior officials from the army, police and prison services.

All local and international charity groups operating in Zimbabwe are registered with the Ministry of Social Welfare. Many are providing humanitarian aid in areas where the government has failed to assist.

But the Mugabe regime accuses them of cooperating with the MDC formations and other “enemies of the state”. Foreign NGOs were temporarily banned from operating in the country ahead of the elections in 2008.

It is feared the move by the Masvingo governor is just the beginning of a new crackdown on NGOs, ahead of any new election. SW Radio Africa

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