Mugabe threatens aid groups, charities unfazed

HARARE - International charities working to stem chronic disease and hunger in crisis-torn Zimbabwe are facing increased threats of expulsion from the country for allegedly promoting “regime change”, with charities insisting they are here to advance development.

This comes amid an increasing trend of harassment and interference targeting NGOs that is marked by increased hostility and threats from top officials.

President Robert Mugabe told his supporters at the Harare International Airport on Monday soon after his arrival from the African Union summit in Addis Ababa that NGOs were regime change agents of the West, with a mandate to overthrow his regime.

This comes as Zimbabwe has been blighted by crises that have caused widespread hunger, leaving about 1,5 million in need of food aid, according to the UN.

“You can’t even begin to count the NGOs in all of these African countries. Here in Zimbabwe we have over 3 000, and it’s like that in other countries, what for?” Mugabe thundered.

“What do they want to analyse? So I said they should remain in their countries, if they come here they should come under our terms.”

Phillan Zamchiya, executive director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a conglomeration of more than 350 civic society organisations, said NGOs have been working in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, helping in the development and democratisation processes of the country.

“The president is offside,” he said.

“Zimbabwe faces hunger, and it’s the NGOs who are running around trying to rescue the situation. I for one think that the definition of regime change has been misplaced to only refer to a removal of government, but it can also mean change of institutions. His advisors need to school him on this.”

Zimrights director Okay Machisa said in the absence of good governance and democracy, NGOs will continue to flood the country, to fill in the gap left by government.

“Zimbabwe suffers from a lack of democracy and good governance. Its youths, women, people living with disability, and people living with HIV are demanding their space. And we also have humanitarian organisations who respond to the humanitarian crisis.

“There’s no way the head of State would be saying that if his government was catering for its citizens in the way it should. Actually, he should be grateful and thanking the NGOs for filling in the gap.”

Machisa said Zimbabwe should declare the hunger crisis a national emergency for humanitarian organisations to respond.

“It’s madness that Zimbabwe has not declared a national crisis like Mozambique has already done,” Machisa said.

“There are humanitarian organisations that can only intervene after there has been that declaration. Government is not with the people who are in desperate need of assistance, and with this hunger situation, it’s more than a crisis, as even people in the city are going hungry.”

Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko said without NGOs, certain processes in the country such as the Global Political Agreement, which gave birth to the government of national unity, would not have taken place.

“I would dispute that. For example, the work that the Zimbabwe Peace Project has done, especially looking at the Global Political Agreement and how capturing violence incidents helped the process, we have been bringing out that information and until there is no more violence in the country, then our organisation might not be needed.”

 

Comments (9)

Same old song from Bob, its either you are trying to kill him or do regime change. Then the threats start flooding in. Bloody wasted 36yrs.

Galore 123 - 2 February 2016

Yeah ,you right Galore ,everyday song as the President wakes up. But,truely ,many thanks to the NGOs,and keep up your voice until we get the Zimbabwe we want. NGOs are doing the greatest job in our beloved country ,especially feeding hungry people all over!

tsviryo - 2 February 2016

And some of those supporters at the airport survive through the generosity of NGOs, like those idiots at AU who gave a silly speech a standing ovation. Who registers NGO, just because they don't segregate when they give out food to starving people he thinks they are regime change agents? We know gvt food is for zanupf but NGO food go to all and zanupf doesnot like that.

wamaromo - 3 February 2016

Nxaa! Cant imagine what life in Zim would be like without NGOs The have done an amazing job in health, child welfare, girl child development, food aid, education...everything that the Gvt should have done with our taxes. Today Gvt boasts of meeting child mortality targets and successful HIV treatment (ARVs) and councelling programs...nxaa it is the NGOs and the idiots cheering at such stupid speeches are living on NGO ARV's, family kumusha is eating donor food and father sleeping around with donor condoms...this makes me sick Everywhere you read the Gvt has done something "in collaboration with -- NGO" always remember that it was done by the NGO 100% and Gvt officials were only their as tour guides.

Ashely - 3 February 2016

Nxaa! Cant imagine what life in Zim would be like without NGOs The have done an amazing job in health, child welfare, girl child development, food aid, education...everything that the Gvt should have done with our taxes. Today Gvt boasts of meeting child mortality targets and successful HIV treatment (ARVs) and councelling programs...nxaa it is the NGOs and the idiots cheering at such stupid speeches are living on NGO ARV's, family kumusha is eating donor food and father sleeping around with donor condoms...this makes me sick Everywhere you read the Gvt has done something "in collaboration with -- NGO" always remember that it was done by the NGO 100% and Gvt officials were only their as tour guides.

Ashely - 3 February 2016

This government has capacity to deal with the current drought situation. The president can go about raving about N.G.O.s during the day but we all know he goes to them at night to literally bag for help.

Roell - 5 February 2016

Sorry , I mean to say NO capacity.

Roell - 5 February 2016

Zvakaoma. Just because NGO's are refusing the use of their donation on party lines there are all bad. As Zimbabweans we desperately need regime change bad, I don't know why bob and cronies think it's a foreign concept.

barryo - 8 February 2016

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