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Comments by Zimbabwe President Mugabe Cast Chill Over NGO Sector

Non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe are voicing concern following comments from President Robert Mugabe saying NGOs are acting as a kind of shadow government.

Speaking at the Global 2009 Dialogue conference in Uganda, Mr. Mugabe said Harare might have to reconsider whether such organizations are desirable.

‘‘We have now a phenomenon of NGOs, or shall I call them phenomena for they really are a type of government in the background of a formal government?" Mr. Mugabe said.

"I don’t know whether this creature is for the better or for the worse, but in our country we have seen a situation where they have exceeded, really, their terms of reference and perhaps we might have to reconsider the advisability of having NGOs,’’ he told the gathering.

His remarks for many brought to mind the order issued by his former government in 2008 in the approach to a presidential runoff election barring non-governmental organizations from carrying out most humanitarian field operations. His government accused NGOs of backing the Movement for Democratic Change, then in the political opposition.

Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that member organizations are prepared to discuss any issues the government may have.

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