Despite international condemnation, a new law criminalizing foreign funding of NGOs has passed the Zimbabwe Parliament and, as the NI goes to press, is awaiting President Robert Mugabe’s signature.
The Bill is the latest addition to a number of laws that have chipped away citizen rights as the Government steps up political control ahead of this month’s parliamentary polls. Zimbabwe has more than 3,000 NGOs whose economic, development, political and social programmes touch the daily lives of Zimbabweans by providing much-needed humanitarian and food aid. More than three million Zimbabweans are currently in need of food: a political reality that the Government stands accused of using by withholding food aid from supporters and sympathizers of the opposition Movement for Democracy.
Already the Bill is crippling developmental programmes as some operations are currently stalled. In addition, NGOs such as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the vocal National Constitutional Assembly, Amani Trust, and the Justice for Agriculture are seen as targeted for closure once the Bill becomes law.
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