NANGO Press Statement, 25 October 2009
Police Arrest NANGO Board Chair and CEO
Victoria Falls police arrested NANGO board chairperson Dadirai Chikwengo and Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe Sunday October 25 2009 after the NGO Directors’ Summer School held 23-24 October 2009 in the resort town.
Information coming from Vic Falls is to the effect that the two are to be charged under POSA for holding a meeting the police deemed political. It is understood that the two were in police custody and they were expected to appear in court Monday 26 October 2009. Zimbabwe Lawyers’ for Human Rights Director Irene Petras, who also attended the Summer School, is representing the two.
The Directors’ Summer School is an annual event organized by the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) bringing together directors from NGOs in Zimbabwe to reflect on their work, discuss the way forward as civil society and issue statements targeted at the development of Zimbabwe among other things.
Police charges against the two stemmed from the statement issued by the directors in which they called for the intervention of SADC and the AU to ensure that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was fully implemented. SADC and the AU are the guarantors of the agreement.
The arrests came hot on the heels of various news articles and opinion pieces in the state controlled media that attacked NGOs openly labeling them as working in cahoots with the West and MDC to effect regime change.
NGO heads and other members of civil society have said the arrests are malicious and they are aimed at intimidating civil society members to dissuade them from their work that includes the call for the democratization of the country and the full implementation of the GPA among other things.
Below is the full statement issued by NGO directors at this year Summer School that triggered the arrest.
Declaration by NGO Directors on the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe
We the leaders of 120 Non Governmental Organisations working to enhance social, economic and political development in Zimbabwe, having met from the 23rd to the 24th of October 2009 in Victoria Falls on the occasion of the NGO Directors Summer School:
Gravely concerned about the continuing crisis in our country which is manifested by widespread food insecurity, high unemployment, outbreaks of diseases, lack of access to essential services, high migration rates, fear and denial of basic human rights,
Recalling, that the signing of the Global Political Agreement and the subsequent formation of the transitional Government of National Unity (GNU) gave hope to many people,
Noting the widely held anticipation that the participation of the main political parties in the Inclusive Government would end the polarisation of the country and that Zimbabweans would finally unite in a democratic and peaceful country in which the dignity of every human being and the rule of law would be respected and upheld,
Reiterating the NGO sector’s demonstrable and long-standing commitment to contribute to progressive efforts to promote development in Zimbabwe in spite of the continued threats and incitement against representatives of the sector,
Acknowledging some slight improvements in humanitarian and economic conditions since the formation of the GNU,
Concerned about the growing list of challenges yet to be addressed or resolved by the Inclusive Government and thus requiring immediate attention – especially in regards to social service delivery, transitional justice, promotion and protection of human rights, constitutional reform, and Institutional reform,
Maintaining that the observance of the rule of law and separation of powers is non-negotiable and essential for the speedy recovery of our country and its re-integration into the regional and international community of nations,
Worried, that the current Inter-party crisis has arisen at a time when Zimbabwe requires a cohesive, accountable and democratic government to respond to amongst other urgent imperatives the predicted drought and deadly cholera outbreak,
Deeply disappointed by the non-action of the guarantors of the Inter Part Political Agreement and their continued unwillingness to perform their mandate and protect the people of Zimbabwe,
Further disappointed about the Inclusive Government?s failure to be accountable and transparent to the people of Zimbabwe about developments surrounding the ‘pull-out /disengagement of the MDC-T’ party from the Inclusive Government,
Resolve to insist via peaceful means for the Inclusive Government to fulfil its own stated obligations in the Inter-party Political Agreement to amongst other things establish a people-driven constitutional reform process, improve social service delivery, facilitate Institutional reforms and create economic stability,
Urge all concerned stakeholders to join the NGO sector in efforts to urgently pursue immediate and honest solutions to the ongoing crisis in the interests of cohesively addressing with purposefulness the suffering that the people face in Zimbabwe,
Call for the immediate and decisive intervention by SADC and the African Union as guarantors of the GPA in fulfilment of their responsibility to ensure the full implementation of the agreement and protect the people of Zimbabwe,
Insist on the urgent resumption of a people driven Constitutional reform process through people driven means in an environment permissive for the full enjoyment of the fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly and association,
Further insist on the Inclusive Government to bring national healing to the people of Zimbabwe through transitional justice mechanisms,
Issued by, Dadirai Chikwengo, NANGO Board Chairperson
For and on behalf of delegates to the NGO Directors Summer School
For further Information Contact:
Godwin Phiri (Board Secretary) 011396073