By Costa Nkomo
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vengeful administration Thursday ordered Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which defied its directive to submit work plans and activities to the Harare Provincial Development Coordinator to shut down.
At the end of June this year, Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti demanded NGOs to submit work plans and intended activities to his office for clearance, an order nine of them dismissed as unconstitutional.
The nine, which now face closure, are Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, National Association of Youth Organisations, National Transitional Justice Working Group, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Zimbabwe National Students Union, and Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children.
They argued that Muguti’s office was a constitutional nullity and thus has no legal basis to monitor NGO operations.
“In the event that you believe you have the same function as would be held by the Provincial Administrators in terms of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act, a reading of Section 10 of this Act clearly points towards the fact that your powers are confined to coordination of the various ministries and organs of government. Your office therefore has no mandate to regulate the operations and clearances of NGO activities,” the NGOs wrote then.
In a statement Thursday, Muguti said some of the Harare-based NGOs have complied but those that remined defiant will have to be closed down.
He said law enforcement agents will now move in to shut down their operations with immediate effect.
“Those that have failed to comply with the request on the 30th of June 2021 shall with immediate effect be stopped by law enforcement from conducting any operations what so ever until they fully comply with the policy. In particular obtaining a resolution from the provincial development committee by the minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution.”
Muguti is banking on the 2003 Policy on Operations of Non-Governmental Organisations in Humanitarian and Development Assistance in Zimbabwe, which states that, “in order for an NGO to commence operations at any level, they should sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the respective Government Ministry or Agency and also secure a resolution with the Provincial Development Committee (PDC)that supports the need for its intended in the Province”.