By Costa Nkomo
ZIMBABWE should allow civil society organisations to flourish as part of the country’s democratisation agenda, European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said Saturday.
Olkonnen was speaking at the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) expo in Harare. The EU envoy expressed concern at what he described as a shrinking civic space against the strides NGOs make in economic development.
“Civil society has an important role to play as Zimbabwe thrives to attain middle income status by 2030 as it compliments the work done by the government.
“Therefore the civil society is not an opponent but an ally in development,” Olkkonen said.
Olkonnen added: “An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system as it promotes pluralism, inclusiveness and democratic governance.”
Recently, there has been a spate of arrests and abductions of trade unionists, civil society members and political activists with some alleging torture by State security agents.
In a statement read on her behalf by director Langton Ngorima at the same event, Public Service Minister Sekai Nzenza acknowledged civil society’s role in development.
Nzenza said government, however remains worried by constant interference by some organisations dabbling in local politics.
“We have noted with disappointment the continued interference in the political domain by certain NGOs and other civic organisations which is unfortunately straining the relationship with the government,” Nzenza said.
She warned that government was considering deregistering organisations that have failed to meet requirements.
“Very soon we will be publishing a press release of NGOs that remain live in our registers but have never bothered to comply with requirements.
“Failure to respond to conditions set by government will result in automatic deregistration,” she said.