Police intensify crackdown on NGOs

HARARE - Police yesterday raided offices of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (Nango) and the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) as the crackdown on civil society organisations intensifies ahead of polls.

In Masvingo, police raided Nango southern region offices demanding operating licences from the organisation.

About seven police officers descended on Nango offices demanding a municipal licence from the organisation, something that should be done by municipal police officers.

Benias Tirivavi, the regional director of Nango, an umbrella body for civil society organisations was yesterday arrested detained and then released without charge.

“I was taken in for questioning at central police station. They demanded a licence from the city council and I tried to explain that our organisation was not a profit-making one so we do not need to pay the licence that is usually paid for by businesses,” he said.

Police in Masvingo could neither confirm nor deny the development. NGO representatives were furious at the police action.

“This is what we have been condemning and we will continue to do that. The issue is clear that there is a deliberate crackdown on NGOs ahead of the elections,” said Zivanai Muzorodzi, project coordinator for Community Tolerance and Reconciliation Development.

In Harare, nine police officers raided the offices of ZPP, an organisation that documents human rights abuses around the country.

Tawanda Zhuwarara, the ZPP lawyer told the Daily News that police officers armed with a search warrant ransacked the organisation’s offices and took with them several documents, including phones.

Efforts to get confirmation from Harare police were fruitless.

The raid on ZPP headquarters and Nango regional offices comes hard on the heels of a raid on ZimRights, another human rights group.

Last year, Masvingo provincial Governor, Titus Maluleke banned 29 NGOs accusing them of pushing imperialists’ agendas. - Staff Writers

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