Zimbabwean Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has accused civic groups of working with the West to promote instability and an agenda of regime change.
Chombo, of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, was speaking late last week in Zaka district, Masvingo province, at a ceremony handing over food aid under the government’s Zunde Ramambo ("Chief's Granary") program.
He said non-governmental organizations should seek to complement government efforts rather than, as he charged, trying to destabilize it with the help of Western nations.
Chombo said all non-governmental organization programs should be approved by relevant government authorities or face closure.
National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations Secretary General Godwin Phiri said such attacks on NGOs have long been a feature of Zimbabwean politics.
He said it is time ministers avoided such rhetoric as Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations are making a critical contribution to national development.
ZANU-PF politicians have often accused International and Zimbabwean non-governmental organizations of pursuing hidden agendas, especially in electoral periods. Before the 2008 elections President Mugabe's government of the time issued directives barring most field activities of non-governmental organizations.