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Harare Minister Criticizes, Threatens Non-Governmental Organizations

The Zimbabwean government has stepped up pressure on civil society groups which have taken an increasingly important role in the broad movement of opposition to the government of President Robert Mugabe.

Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo said in remarks published by the state-controlled Herald newspaper that Harare will take "drastic" action against groups that he says are overstepping their bounds by engaging in certain activities without the permission of authorities.

Chombo told the Herald that nongovernmental organizations are holding workshops and performing consulting work in the intent of disrupting government operations. He singled out groups that have distributed radios and literature on governance.

Chombo said those interested in helping society should seek government permission to do so, and obtain a resolution from the local council authorizing the activity.

But spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government is bitter because its failure has led people to turn to NGOs for help.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...