Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Zimbabwe Finally Lifts its Ban on Charity Aid Groups

We previously blogged (here, here, here, and here) on Zimbabwe's now three-month old ban on the work of charity aid groups in that country.  Well, it appears that Zimbabwe has finally lifted the ban that has prevented literally millions of people from getting needed food and other basic necessities.  But the effects of the ban will linger for some time.  Here is an excerpt from the August 29, 2008, New York Times article about the lifting of the ban:

The groups have long said they provide aid based solely on need, not politics. But Zimbabwe’s minister of information, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, on Friday reiterated the government’s charge that some of the international aid groups had backed the opposition against Mr. Mugabe, providing food only to opposition supporters and funneling aid money into the coffers of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

“During the elections they were monsters,” he said. But now, he added, “since there are no elections, we hope they will now go back to their core business.”

“I hope some have now repented,” he said.

The aid groups have challenged the government to prove its case. Asked which nongovernmental organizations had used food for political purposes, Mr. Ndlovu declined Friday to name any. “They know themselves,” he said.

The United States, which last year provided $171 million in food aid to Zimbabwe, said that it was Mr. Mugabe’s government that used food for political ends. This week, the American ambassador to Zimbabwe, James D. McGee, wrote to the social welfare minister, Nicholas Goche, demanding that the United States government be reimbursed for the theft of 20 metric tons of American-donated food. The aid had been meant for schoolchildren, but was instead confiscated by the authorities and handed out at a ruling party political rally.

For the entire story, see "Zimbabwe Lifts Ban on Aid Groups, but Its Effects Linger" in the August 29, 2008, issue of the New York Times.



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