By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
8 May 2014
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has moved to undermine the financial support of civil society groups in Zimbabwe, recommending that any international funding for such groups be diverted to the government instead.
Moyo was speaking to the Dutch ambassador, Gera Sneller, this week and according to the state run Herald, he said that “channeling aid through the civil society was equivalent to disapproving the government of the day.”
Sneller reportedly then said that her government was looking at how to support ZANU PF’s ZimAsset economic blueprint.
“We have been providing aid for a long time, but the private sector now has to replace aid because working together through the private sector is the most sustainable way for development on both sides, not giving handouts,” said Ambassador Sneller.
Western governments have been providing millions of dollars in aid and financial support to civil society initiatives in Zimbabwe, with direct government aid being suspended as a result of the ZANU PF regime’s financial mismanagement of the country.
Western aid has ensured that Zimbabweans have access to necessities like medicine, food and water, which ZANU PF has failed to provide for years. At the same time, civil society funding means there has been a voice and support for Zimbabweans during the country’s most difficult political struggles.
Thabani Nyoni, the Director of the Bulawayo Agenda civil society group, said that the existence of such groups was vital for a democratic society, because they hold the government to account of behalf of the public.
“In Zimbabwe it is most important that civil society is supported, because the country is still in transition. Civil society plays an important role in ensuring that citizens are informed and it should be supported,” Nyoni told SW Radio Africa.
Nyoni said that the comments by Moyo are a sign of “desperation and dishonesty,” from an insincere government.
“This is the same government that promised reforms. The belief that civil society is the opposition, an unwanted institutional structure that should not be allowed to survive, shows the lack of sincerity of this government that does not believe in democracy, pluralism and divergent opinions,” Nyoni said.