A ban on aid bodies in the Masvingo province has been lifted, and government is appealing to NGOs to resume operations there.
Masvingo has lifted a ban on nongovernmental organisations operating in the province.
Former provincial governor Titus Maluleke sent shock waves through the area early last year when he ordered 29 NGOs to stop operating in Masvingo – most of which were providing food to desperate families. He accused them of engaging in political activity.
But, the minister responsible for provincial affairs, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti – who also took a swipe at Maluleke – has announced the cancellation of the ban, arguing that the government cannot feed all the starving people in the province on its own.
“We are appealing to all NGOs, including those that were once banned, to resume operations,” Bhasikiti said.
“Some families are going for two days without having a proper meal. Anyone who once banned these NGOs from operating is misguided and retrogressive.”
Villagers have welcomed the lifting of the restrictions. Thomson Manjengwa of Gutu said, before the NGOs were banned, “we received foodstuffs including mealie meal, cooking oil, beans and porridge”.
Givemore Maulani of Mwenezi said aid organisations are residents’ only source of food: "We never received any food from the government during years of drought here. NGOs were the ones taking care of us."
An antagonistic relationship with the government
Aid bodies have long had an antagonistic relationship with the government, which accuses the charities of supporting opposition political parties. The NGOs deny the allegation.
Meanwhile, the government is still battling to revive its food-for-work programme because of financial constraints. The programme has over the years managed to sustain those in areas that receive poor rainfall.
The country has contended with years of successive crop failures owing to a combination of poor rainfall and an often chaotic land reform programme that has disrupted farming. – CAJ News