Harare — Zimbabwe has suspended 29 non-governmental organisations in what has been described as a renewed clampdown on aid workers ahead of elections President Robert Mugabe wants held this year.
The veteran ruler's Zanu-PF party at its annual conference last December tabled a report claiming that there were 2,500 NGOs operating in the country and most of them were pushing a "regime change agenda." "Some of these NGOs are working day and night to remove President Mugabe and Zanu-PF from power," reads part of the report. "They are being funded by Britain and some European Union countries, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand."
A governor for Masvingo province, Mr Titus Maluleke, yesterday said the organisations had been suspended from operating in the impoverished area because they failed to submit certain paper work to his office.
"I have no option, but to immediately suspend operations of NGOs which did not comply with our calls to get registered," Mr Maluleke said.
"We gave an October 21 deadline which we extended to December 31 last year, after realising that most NGOs had not complied, but I have noted that up to date, many still have not registered. "This means that they were operating outside the confines of the law and have been suspended forthwith."
Mr Sylvester Chin'anga, a regional spokesperson for the National Association of Non-Governmental Orgaanisations told a private newspaper NewsDay, the suspension will stop the flow of aid to vulnerable people.
President Mugabe, who is turning 88 next week, accuses western countries of using NGOs to try and push him out of power. Before the formation of a unity government in 2009, his old administration drafted a law that sought to ban NGOs but it was shelved after spirited opposition.