Zimbabwe Annuls NGOs as Protesters Mass at the Border
Harare is never afraid to play the imperialism card: anybody or any organization who speaks against Mugabe's rule must surely be an agent of the British, working feverishly to restore the glory days of Rhodesia.
Reports that Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu has annulled the registration of all NGOs active in the country have been greeted with dismay by civil society representatives.
"Twenty-seven years after Zimbabwe welcomed democracy and justice, the current government has marked this Independence Day by clamping down on peaceful NGOs -- the same organisations that work to protect human rights, reduce poverty and encourage the betterment of Zimbabwean society," said Clare Doube, manager of the Civil Society Watch programme at the Worldwide Alliance for Citizen Participation (Civicus), in reference to the emergence of the reports ahead of Zimbabwe Independence Day on Wednesday.
Civicus is a network of civil society organisations; it is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
"Rather than engaging these active and passionate citizens in ending the current economic and social crisis, the government is attempting to silence them," Doube added, in an April 17 statement put out by Civicus.
Zimbabwe is currently battling runaway inflation, high unemployment and shortages of essential goods -- blamed by some on government's economic mismanagement. The country is also experiencing political repression that has resulted in widespread human rights abuses and a number of flawed elections.
State-controlled television was quoted as saying that the annulment was aimed at identifying "agents of imperialism from genuine organisations working to uplift the well-being of the poor".
Zimbabwe's Independence Day was yesterday, in more ways than one.
Meanwhile, protests took place at the border with South Africa:
hundred South Africans picketed at the Zimbabwe border to show
solidarity for Zimbabwe's struggle for democracy and human rights, the
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Thursday.
Cosatu's Limpopo provincial secretary Jan Tsiane said the protesters
from the unions and members of the South African National Civic
Organisation and the Limpopo Young Communist League gathered at the
Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe on Thursday.
Cosatu is backing the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions' demand
for minimum wages and salaries linked to the poverty datum line (PDL),
reduction of income tax to a 30% maximum, no tax for workers earning
below the PDL, free access to antiretrovirals, stabilised pricing on
basic commodities and a stop to state harassment of informal-economy