HARARE - Welshman Ncube’s opposition MDC has criticised President Robert Mugabe for attempting to ban what he deems to be undesirable non-governmental organisations.
Mugabe raised the spectre of banning the operations of charities in Zimbabwe in his address at the African Union on Saturday, and just after his arrival from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the Harare International Airport on Monday.
Mugabe’s threat comes after the worst maize harvest on record and is just the latest action in a worrying step in a series of restrictions on civil society, independent media and political opposition.
MDC national spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said the threats were “unfortunate”, adding that Mugabe would do well to remember that NGOs to a large extent kept the country afloat during his “failed administration” since the 2013 elections.
“He is missing the point completely in shooting his mouth off at the hand that literally feeds his nation,” Chihwayi said.
“What president Mugabe should be ensuring is that meaningful steps are taken to safeguard the operating environment for humanitarian agencies in the country.
“NGOs have literally carried the nation in terms of humanitarian support in areas including the health and reproductive sector, food aid, advocacy work for human rights and many others.
“We take great exception to the use of these strong-arm tactics to silence dissenting voices. This is an affront to the freedoms that our liberation heroes fought for. It is more than clear to everyone that from day one, the Zanu PF administration has employed every trick in the books to curtail civil liberties, including media, human rights advocacy and abusing food aid as a way of entrenching its rule over the people. We must all resist this.”
Threatening to boot out the charities on Monday, Mugabe said: “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?
“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.”
Ncube’s MDC said Mugabe must zip it.
“The only time president Mugabe’s rants at NGOs will be justified is when his government provides alternative provisions for the suffering millions,” Chihwayi said.
“Right now we advise him to tuck in his tail between his legs and shut up as far as the operations of these organisations are concerned.
“We urge the NGOs to remain focused and continue to provide assistance to our people and point out the ills that affect the society. Matters of corruption, poor governance and abuse of the security apparatus among others, are affecting every Zimbabwean and must be exposed.”