Press Release Defy NGO ban in Masvingo- CSO Coalitions

Press Release

Defy NGO ban in Masvingo- CSO Coalitions

Six Civil Society Coalitions,(Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), National Association of Non Governmental Organizations (NANGO) and Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) ) today, 16 February 2012 dismissed the ban of NGO activities in Masvingo as a 'legal nullity'. This was said during a press conference held by the organizations in response to the banning by Masvingo Provincial Governor, Titus Maluleke of the activities of 29 NGOs. Governor Maluleke made the statements flanked by members of the Police and the Military on Tuesday 14 February.

Mr. Marongwe of NANGO noted that the purported ban was a continuation of a crackdown on NGO's which can be seen through the victimization of the NGO Forum in 2011, and threats in October 2011 to shut down operations of NGO's in Masvingo by Governor Maluleke.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Executive Director Irene Petras, speaking at the conference stated that:

' At this stage we can not take legal action as this is a nullity, what we want to encourage people to do is to continue with their lawful activities, we need to make sure that people are not intimidated. Just because we might be quiet and going about our activities quietly does not mean that CSO's are asleep and if they want to try and wake us up then they must start trying to arrest people carrying out activities in Masvingo or anywhere else'

The NCA Chairperson, Professor Madhuku, speaking at the press conference stated that:

'We shouldn't respect, we should behave in accordance with what we think is right, to provide humanitarian work, do civil society work, and human rights work, and defy Maluleke's statement. If we were to do anything other than defiance"¦we will be respecting him (the governor) too much"¦ He can't have that kind of power.'

McDonald Lewanika, Director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition lamented the fact that some of the organizations only knew of the alleged ban from the newspapers and explained the reasons for the statement by the Coalitions:

'The reason why we are making these pronouncements is because we believe that the actions taken by the governor, affect many more organizations than the 29 organizations that he mentioned. It is in the spirit that an injury to one organization is an injury to all of us, that we are taking the stand we are taking here.'

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Director, Abel Chikomo warned of a contagion effect stemming to other provinces if Maluleke's pronouncements were not ignored.

The press conference was chaired by Ms. Irene Petras while the statement was read by Mr. McDonald Lewanika. Please find statement here

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