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Zimbabwean Labor Minister Says Governor Lacks Power to Suspend NGOs

Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke charged that the non-governmental organizations which he had targeted had failed to meet registration requirements and were engaging in political activities

Zimbabwean Labor and Social Welfare Minister Paurina Mpariwa Gwanyanya, moving against Masvingo Governor Titus Maluleke following his suspension last week of 29 non-governmental organizations, said Monday he exceeded his authority.

Mpariwa Gwanyanya, of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said neither ZANU-PF nor its officials were empowered to register or deregister non-governmental organizations as Maluleke said he had done.

The Masvingo provincial governor charged that the civil society organizations which he had targeted had failed to meet registration requirements and were engaging in political activities. The crackdown has left some NGO beneficiaries without critical services.

But Mpariwa, in the province this week to assess drought and drought-mitigation plans, told VOA that she will inform Maluleke that he has overstepped his authority.

Meanwhile she urged non-governmental organizations in the province to continue providing services to the poor and to call her office if they face any problems.

ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo said the provincial leadership in Masvingo was correct to ask the NGOs to register with the governor’s office as this is the norm in the country. He added that what he considers authentic non-governmental organizations are operating across the country without a problem.

"We are not re-inventing the wheel, the NGOs have been operating in the country for a very long time. The procedures to register NGOs in the provinces are very clear," said Gumbo. "They are registered by the provincial governor ... before being introduced to the district administrator and the rural district council chief executive officer and the people."

Machinda Marongwe, program director of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, said Masvingo NGOs are working in an environment of uncertainty and fear. He said his group is seeking a meeting with the government for clarification.