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German NGOsevers ties with government

Blessing Zulu

ZIMBABWE-Network, a German-based non-governmental organisation which supported the country’s liberation movements during the struggle for Independence, has cut ties with go

vernment to protest human rights abuses.

A spokesman for the NGO, Rosini Fiedler Conradi, told the Zimbabwe Independent that his organisation was appalled by political and economic developments in country.

“We were in a crisis at first as we did not know how to react to the developments in Zimbabwe following reports of gross human rights abuses,” Conradi said.

“Our members went to Zimbabwe at the height of the political crisis in 2000 and 2001 and this made the picture clearer. The government, it emerged, did not adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights.”

Zimbabwe-Network assisted both Zanu PF and PF-Zapu during the liberation war against colonial rule. The network raised money and acquired ammunition for freedom fighters, trained teachers at refugee camps outside the country and provided logistical support.

The group also assisted in reconstruction and economic recovery after Independence. It helped ex-combatants set up self-help projects.

Conradi said the group had since stopped supporting Zimbabwe with any form of aid due to the prevailing repression and human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, former Zimbabwe-German Trade Association president Werner Seidel has blamed the chaotic land reform programme for the country’s economic decline.

“The grabbing of land, even the land that had been purchased after Independence, will scare away potential voters,” Seidel said.

“The message that the government is sending to potential investors is that their property rights are not guaranteed. It will be very difficult to convince anyone to invest in such an insecure environment.”

Seidel said German investors and local farmers had engaged him to reason with President Robert Mugabe when he was in Berlin a few years ago on the need to resolve the land imbalances peacefully.

“I told the president that land reform was necessary but it had to be resolved amicably,” he said.

“There were many farmers who were willing to surrender their farms but the president did not want to commit himself.”

Zimbabwe is in its fourth year of economic recession. Social instability as a result of unemployment of around 70%, and inflation of nearly 400% are playing havoc in the country. Nearly six million Zimbabweans will need food assistance before the next harvest season because of a marked decline in agricultural productivity blamed chiefly on the government’s arbitrary seizure of white commercial farms.

Government blames the country’s enemies led by the UK and the US, the opposition MDC and drought.

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