The Zimbabwean government has banned three international food aid organizations from operating and ordered most local groups to cease such activities.
Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinumwe of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations said Care International, the British branch of Save the Children and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency received letters from the Harare government ordering them to cease food distribution.
Zinumwe said most NGOs involved in food distribution are no longer able to fulfill their missions due to prohibitions by local councilors or interference by state agents or the war veterans who have been waging violence against opposition supporters in the rural districts most in need of distributions of maize and other staple foods.
Zinumwe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it seems Harare has shifted its focus from harassing human rights NGOs to bearing down on those providing food, accusing them of trying to boost the political opposition.
Following presidential, general and local elections March 29, Zimbabweans will cast ballots again on June 27 when a presidential run-off election is set between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Mr. Mugabe trailed in the first round with 43.2% of ballots compared with Tsvangirai's 47.9% share.
African Communications Manager Kenneth Walker of Care International said in an interview from Johannesburg with Patience Rusere that the organization in Zimbabwe has been suspended and is under investigation for allegedly distributing opposition brochures and refusing aid to those who do not support the opposition.
Walker denied the charges, saying Care International is strictly apolitical.