State afraid of own people

SUPPORTERS of the NGO Bill have given the impression that the proposed law is targeted at closing non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that Zanu PF considers detrimental to its hold on power.



Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Writers such as Lowani Ndlovu and Tafataona Mahoso have even sought to justify their arguments with remote examples of NGO influence and regulation elsewhere as if Zimbabwe does not have the same.


Organisations such as the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) have achieved more in the constitutional reform debate, including spearheading a campaign to reject the government spearheaded constitutional reform process. On the legal front, legislation already exists to govern such bodies.

The new law, along with its counterparts the Broadcasting Services Act, Posa and Aippa seek to enable the current government to intensify its repressive tentacles with little regard for the future of the nation. The arguments advanced in the public media and other government-friendly media expose the context in which government is introducing this new law on NGOs.


While many have come to terms with the way some elements in the current government are introducing repressive laws to curtail alternative thinking and expression, the essence of accountability has been missed in the whole debate.


Citizens have failed to demand accountability from their own government with the results that the few that have done so are being threatened by the same government which has failed to produce audited accounts of how it has spents taxpayers’ money for years. Now the state has become so powerful that it can choose its own people, its own critics and enemies.


The whole scenario stinks and citizens will only be able to claim their rights after a struggle. Not even the ballot box seems to offer any immediate salvation since the orchestrators of repression are the referees and conductors of such events. Nature, for being unfair to the people, should certainly hold the key to the future – we pray!


Surely government can best spend its time and resources ensuring that the office of the Ombudsman is adequately resourced to deal with the many complaints against state bodies.


That the West has managed to impose legal restrictions on NGOs which receive the bulk of their finances from their governments should not provide an opportunity for government to silence its people.


It is unimaginable for government to finance the operations of an organisation such as the NCA to enable it to campaign for constitutional reform. After all, it has failed to adequately provide resources to its parastatals with the result that service delivery in these organisations has become so poor. The NRZ, Air Zimbabwe and ZBC are examples.


Further, the government has failed to even finance essential services like the health sector. As a result, the gap between the poor and the rich has widened to alarming levels. The only sound intervention has been from NGOs, most of whom receive foreign money. The economically active are taxed to death and a culture of caring for extended families is quickly being eroded.


Consequently, NGOs will have to seek support from elsewhere to enable them to fulfil mandates approved by their members.


It is true that government’s failed economic policies have exposed Zimbabweans to foreign support. Where this is not available, the result has been chaotic.


The plain truth is that the state is afraid of its people and is desperate to ensure that society is weaned off the few that dare raise their voices.


Brotherhood,

Harare.

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