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Zimbabwe NGOs File Urgent Court Application Seeking Order to Stop Harare from Shutting Them Down

High Court of Zimbabwe
High Court of Zimbabwe

Some non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe have filed an urgent court application seeking to stop Harare Provincial Development Coordinator, Tafadzwa Muguti, from shutting down entities which did not comply with his orders to unveil their work plans and programs to the state-controlled body.

In a statement posted on its official Facebook page, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said its member, Tonderai Bhatasara, has filed the application challenging the arbitrary actions by Muguti purporting to ban NGOS in Harare.

Bhatasara filed the application on behalf of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

“In the application, we have asked the High Court to interdict anyone from enforcing, interfering, suspending or stopping operations of NGOs, Trusts, Civil Society Organisations and Faith-Based Organisations or in any way acting on the contents of the press statement issued on 29 July by Muguti.”

Responding to the ZLHR’s application, in a tweet, Mugutu said it’s not surprising that organizations including Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, failed to comply with his directive.

He claimed that such organizations are consistently critical of the government and “they lead in spreading lies that there is a crisis” in Zimbabwe.

Apart from Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, some of the organizations that may be forced to shut down are the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, National Association of Youth Organizations, National Transitional Justice Working Group, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Zimbabwe National Students’ Union, and Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children.

Indications are that these organizations are challenging the constitutionality of Muguti’s office in monitoring NGO operations.

In another tweet, Mugutu said there are 17 NGOs that have provided their work plans to his office.

He said, “The office of the PDC would like to thank the all NGOs &Trusts that have submitted their work plans & programmes. We encourage all development partners to work together with us.

“Harare Metropolitan province is committed to ease of business and shall therefore support all the organisations that have complied with our request to implement their programmes & projects. Let's work together to build an upper middle income society.”

Organizations that have submitted their work plans as per Muguti’s order include Child Protection Society, Royal Business Consult Trust, J.F Kapnek Trust, HelpAge Zimbabwe, Mavambo Orphan Care, Centre for Sexual Health &HIV & AIDS Research, Life Empowerment Support Organisations, Zichre, AIDS Counselling Trust and Msasa Project.

Others are Voluntary Service Overseas, Population Services Zimbabwe, SOS Children's Villages Zimbabwe, Christian Blind Mission, The China Africa Economy & Culture Exchange & Research Centre Trust and Zimbabwe National Organisation for Residents Trusts.