Zimbabwe Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, in comments published Tuesday in a state-controlled newspaper, said the government will be vigilant against civic groups that act as “political destabilizers,” singling out the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an umbrella for some 300 civic groups, released a statement saying it was "perturbed by the uninformed allegations" leveled by Ndlovu. The group said it would continue its work until Harare repeals "obnoxious" laws.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Ndlovu as accusing the crisis coalition and other nongovernmental organizations of “deviating from their core business to become political destabilizers” and “splinters” of the political opposition.
The minister cited what he described as “reports of corruption and deception” from the Coalition’s Johannesburg office. The Crisis Coalition statement called his allegations “unfounded and malicious, aimed at soiling the name of the organization and discrediting the organization.”
VOA could not reach Crisis Coalition Coordinator Jacob Mafume, who was singled out by Ndlovu in the interview. Mafume's staff said he was in the countryside.
The statement said the accounts of the Crisis Coalition’s Johannesburg office had been audited and the results indicated its funding and expenditures were "in line with international standards of accounting.” It called Ndlovu's attack a "calculated move” by Harare to pressure dissenting voices ahead of elections due next year.
Spokesman Fambai Ngirande of the National Association of Non-Governmental organizations told Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Ndlovu’s comments come as harassment and intimidation of NGOs are on the rise.