via NGOs forced to work with ZANU PF structures | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo on Thursday, October 17, 2013
ZANU PF uses memoranda’s of understanding to ensure that non-governmental organisations do not have total autonomy when implementing programmes, a Masvingo-based group said Thursday.
Zivanai Muzorodzi, programmes manager at advocacy group Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), said while NGOs want to conduct their activities impartially, his experiences in the Masvingo Province have shown that this is not always possible.
“Every organisation that wants to implement a programme in the community is made to sign a memorandum of understanding. This is a trick that ZANU PF uses to ensure that all NGOs follow lines of communication crafted by the party.
“You find that ZANU PF gate-keepers are in charge of the whole structure from provincial administration down to village level where they are in charge of drawing up the list of eligibility.
“So by signing an understanding, an NGO commits to operating within these structures, and have to submit work plans which are monitored by the ruling party’s people,” Muzorodzi said.
He said this was true of all NGO activities, including humanitarian programmes such as food relief.
Muzorodzi added: “It doesn’t matter whether the source of the food items is the government’s grain loan scheme or humanitarian organisations – the distribution follows procedures spelt out by ZANU PF and the list of beneficiaries will reflect this.
“In Zaka North for example where ZANU PF chairperson Newton Mashiri, together with the councillor for Ward 6, are in charge, some villagers have been told that they will never make the list because of their MDC-T membership.”
The COTRAD official said recently another NGO, Mwenezi Development Trust, asked community leaders to mobilise villagers and compile a list of those in need of food aid.
“A well-known ZANU PF youth, Boniface Chingwendere, was given the task to do this and in the end, the list that he came up with was party-based rather than needs-based.
“NGOs should know that political dynamics within these communities. Even if they have to operate within ZANU PF structures, it should be possible for NGO staff to speak to villagers and families to determine their levels of need rather than relying on lists provided by community leaders,” Muzorodzi said.
He said by delegating needs assessment to community leaders, NGOs were allowing ZANU PF-aligned headmen, councillors and chiefs to use food to further their political interests.
Muzorodzi’s comments come in the wake of recent reports from some villagers in Lower Gweru who told SW Radio Africa last week that they were being denied food aid donated by a humanitarian organisation.
The organisation, the UN World Food Programme, denied the report Wednesday, adding that it has strict monitoring mechanisms aimed at preventing partisan food distribution.