(AFP) – Sep 2, 2008
HARARE (AFP) — Zimbabwe is imposing strict new conditions on humanitarian agencies, despite lifting of a ban on their activities last week, a state-owned newspaper reported Tuesday.
In future, all such agencies will have to submit details of their humanitarian programmes and funding, as well as areas and modes of operation, to the government, The Herald reported.
"Government has introduced new reporting mechanisms for private voluntary organisations and non-governmental organisations ... that will see them constantly indicating to the parent ministry their programmes, areas and modes of operations," it said.
Zimbabwe on Friday lifted a ban on aid agencies that was put into place ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off election, amid claims that some were siding with opponents of President Robert Mugabe.
A leading official in the social welfare ministry, Lancaster Museka, told the newspaper all NGOs now were obliged to fill in forms with details of grants they had received between July 2007 and June 2008, and how they used the money.
"Through the form, the organisation will give its objectives, programme details and services that it provided, their implementation levels, sources of grants and what they were used for," Museka said.
The form should be signed by the head of the organisation concerned, who can be prosecuted if the information proves inaccurate, the newspaper said.
"For those organisations dealing in food handouts, a declaration of purchase for both local and imported products and how much has been distributed over the same period will also be submitted," the official said.
Mugabe's government suspended the operations of aid agencies after accusing them of using food to direct people to vote for the opposition in the March 29 general elections. Its blanket ban drew international condemnation.
Zimbabwe has been hard hit by the AIDS epidemic, and aid groups warned of a potential humanitarian crisis if the ban stayed in place.
The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) said that by setting such stringent rules, the government had effectively put a contentious NGO bill into operation.
"NANGO laments the fact that the lifting of the suspension is selective and excludes thousands of organisations," it said in a statement.
"NANGO urgently calls upon the ministry of social welfare and other state parties to create a conducive environment for the civil society to assist the millions of suffering Zimbabweans."
It said "far-reaching reforms" are needed, not only in the Zimbabwean law governing NGOs but also in the "entire democratic and human rights infrastructure in Zimbabwe".
The June elections saw Mugabe's ZANU-PF party losing its majority in parliament for the first time since the nation won independence from Britain in 1980.
Mugabe, who later won a one-man presidential run-off after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai bowed out amid widespread electoral violence, is under international pressure to form a unity government with the opposition.
However, power-sharing talks seem to be deadlocked with the 84-year old leader threatening to form a new government without Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.
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