Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Beacon No. 15: Mugabe Cracks Down on NGO "Plots"


About the only people who aren't being cracked-down on in Zimbabwe these days are foreigners working for NGOs. Whoops! I spoke too soon. In the December 10 New York Times, Michael Wines writes that the Mugabe government is banning domestic groups from accepting outside money or other aid:

The Nongovernmental Organizations Bill, passed by a 48-to-28 vote [in Zimbabwe's Parliament], bars domestic civic groups and other organizations from accepting foreign money or other support to promote human rights or "issues of governance." Domestic groups are deemed to have foreign support if any member is a foreigner or a Zimbabwean living abroad.

That cuts out just about everybody, including Zimbabwean churches and the approximately 3 million Zimbabweans who live outside the country and may want to support Mugabe opponents. What's so threatening about NGOs? Apparently they're part of 'Western plots to restore colonial rule,' as though Zimbabwe was still an African crown jewel rather than a civil-war-in-waiting. The law also requires each NGO to "disclose its financing, budgets and supporters," setting NGO members up like bowling pins for an easy strike.

Mugabe seems determined to cut Zimbabwe off from Africa and the rest of the world, steadily weeding out soft-power influences from at home and abroad. Watch for a satellite-dish ban as the final indication that Mugabe would rather rule a pile of rubble in the Gap than embrace the rules and rewards of the Core.

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