Zimbabwe NGOs: It is well-known that much of Zimbabwe’s economic distress today is due to cruel Western sanctions. It went through a turbulent political and economic situation for a very long time. According to an estimation, due to western sanctions, the country has lost about $100 billion in aid and grants from financial institutions such as the African Development Bank. Despite this, Zimbabwe has been able to make steady progress of late and has also been able to make its mark as a growing economy in the African continent.
Seems like, Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa has also realized that, the country needs to tackle the threat posed by bogus NGOs working in Zimbabwe, in the name of defending human rights, by furthering Western propaganda. So, why, and how does he plan to initiate this “in-house cleaning” mission?
Zimbabwe’s in-house cleaning
The ‘Saptanga Theory’ or the 7 major pillars of statecraft, by Indian statesman Chanakya, talks about 2 major categories of enemies namely internal and external. External enemies are usually known and thus can be dealt with accordingly. But it is difficult to identify internal enemies, given their ability to mix with the population, and their loyalties are questionable and always remain so. One must exercise extra caution regarding such termites who make the strong foundations of state hollow.
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The government of Zimbabwe under Mnangagwa has been credited with many reforms in the economy and society, however there have been apprehension regarding the role of various Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) which in the garb of being proponents of democracy and good governance actually operate as regime change agents, working on West’s agenda to destabilize the country.
To this point, President Mnangagwa has made up his mind to take the bull by its horns and are taking measures that have caused a hue and cry among the NGOs. These organizations fear that the government could close them down after the Senate passed a bill that gives the government greater control over their operations. Furthermore, the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (NANGO), which is an umbrella body believes that some of the bill’s clauses are “repressive” and will limit work in “vulnerable communities”. Additionally, in this regard, desperate calls have been made to the Zimbabwe’s President to reject the bill.
Before this, in January 2023, Zimbabwe deregistered 291 NGOs for their failure to submit annual tax returns, as well as for national security reasons and for allegedly straying from their mandate. Critics have said that such measures paralyze NGO freedoms. The government has often accused Western governments of using NGOs to destabilize Zimbabwe & benefit the opposition in the country, which is heading for elections this year.
Apprehension over NGOs’ role
However, Zimbabwe being the country that have faced brutal Western sanctions for years on end, is fearful of Western governments’ “grand plan” to dislodge the ruling Zanu PF, benefit the opposition and thereby perhaps install a puppet regime. It is also not uncommon for the US who engage in regime change operations to maintain their hegemony.
As per reports, there is trend in the NGO sector where the trouble makers are shifted to each election spot, as experts of destabilization. For instance, in 2012, The Herald carried a story about an embarrassing incident in which Shona textbooks were distributed in Matabeleland where isiNdebele is the dominant language and the incident had caused a lot of discomfort between the Government of Zimbabwe and UNICEF. Later it was found out that it was an election plot to raise emotion against the ZANU PF Government.
With the country heading for elections, there are concerns that there might be more such plots by these NGOs aimed at dividing the people and destabilizing the Zimbabwe. Similarly, there are fears that many NGOs are being used to derail Zanu- PF’s return to power.
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Zimbabwe has for long suffered the brunt of Western sanctions. Furthermore, the possibility that Western governments might use NGOs to create tensions out of thin air and provoke divisions and destabilize the country is worrying. Considering the scenario, the Zimbabwe President has finally initiated the clean-up mission, much to the dislike of these NGOs. However, if such laws restrict the operations of rogue NGOs controlled and funded by former colonial masters that subvert governments in other countries in Africa, it can be considered as a major step towards protecting Africa’s own national interests.
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