The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'No Electoral Interference From NGOs'

Non-governmental organisations should not interfere with the electoral processes in the country under the guise of humanitarian assistance, an official has said. Launching the Zimbabwe Humanitarian GAPS 2013 Appeal in Harare yesterday, Regional Integration and International Cooperation secretary Mr Tadeus Chifamba said Government would not hesitate to ban NGOs that meddle in the country's electoral processes.

He said the donor community should continue working with the existing Government structures to avoid unnecessary duplication and tension that would hinder the vulnerable's access to the much-needed relief.

"As the country prepares for the constitutional referendum and elections, Government would like to urge NGOs not to interfere in the internal political processes under the guise of humanitarian assistance," he said.

"Let Zimbabweans be given an opportunity to define their future and destiny."

Asked why Government was pushing away donors from the electoral process yet they had contributed in the constitution making process Mr Chifamba said the needs of the Zimbabwean people lay with their Government.

"We are not pushing away anyone but what people have to understand is there are certain countries that have already taken a stance in relation to Government.

'As much as they have contributed to the constitution, they are seen as interested parties who will compromise neutrality in the observance of our electoral process," he said.

Zimbabwe requires about US$131 million for humanitarian purposes this year.

Mr Chifamba said Zimbabwe had a right to appeal for assistance but such assistance when rendered, should not usurp Government responsibility but rather complement it.

He said Zimbabwe was neither a 'classical' humanitarian case nor a failed State.

"There are more deserving cases out there emerging from extreme weather conditions like floods and natural calamities such as earthquakes.

"The fact that there is a reduction in our appeal from close to US$200 million last year to the amount we require this year is an acknowledgement that Zimbabwe is on the road to recovery and sustained economic growth," he said.

Mr Chifamba said donor assistance should now shift from being humanitarian to developmental.

"Sustained dialogue and engagement between Government and the co-operating partners coupled with developments on the political and economic fronts have witnessed growing consensus to shift from humanitarian to developmental," he said.

"The Zimbabwe Humanitarian GAPS appeal is the first serious attempt to isolate purely humanitarian challenges from transition and developmental interventions."

In its appeal, Zimbabwe wants assistance mainly on food security, health, civil protection and water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash).

Areas such as education, agriculture, nutrition and livelihoods are now outside the humanitarian appeal.

Norway ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Ingebjorg Stofring said donors should respect global humanitarian principles when conducting their duties.

"There must be no interference in the internal affairs of a particular country but activities should be guided by set global humanitarian principles," she said.

She said joint efforts between Government and the donor community would save lives of thousands of vulnerable people.

"Zimbabwe is no longer a typical emergency country and it is our hope that this good relationship will continue until we achieve our goals," she said.

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