HARARE – The National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (Nango) has rushed to distance itself from claims by its treasurer that sanctions were affecting the Zimbabwean economy.
Insiders say Nango fears a backlash from its western donors who imposed targeted sanctions which ban more than 250 Zimbabwean individuals and companies from doing business with the United States and Europe.
The umbrella civil society body with almost 1 000 quasi-political members, has said statements made by its treasurer Paul Juru through the state media that the NGO community was ready to work with government in fighting economic sanctions was offside.
Michael Mabwe, Nango’s secretary-general, said Juru was Nango’s treasurer and not chairman as claimed by the State press.
“The organisation would like to distance itself from the statement attributed to the treasurer of the association Paul Juru,” Mabwe said.
“The policy positions of Nango are derived from a process of internal consultation of its members on all issues. That process on the issue concerned has not taken place whether at board level or the entire membership. Nango therefore dismisses the statement as personal views of its treasurer.”
Mabwe said Nango notes the sensitivity of the issue under discussion and acknowledges that member organisations have differing views.
Juru is quoted in the State press saying: “We recognise that there are sanctions in the country. They are real and those people that are vulnerable are at the receiving end. We are determined to engage relevant powers towards the scrapping of the sanctions. We are looking forward to working with Government in identifying international players who will have a voice in the scrapping off of the embargo.”
Juru, who is also the Sadc Council of Non-Governmental Organisations president, added: “We need political players both international and national to engage each other and play their politics well so that the sanctions are removed as early as possible."
“These sanctions should be scrapped off like yesterday, the international community should know that the sanctions are hitting hard on the Zimbabwean community. It is not good for some other countries to enjoy whereas some others are suffering from man-made restrictions and impositions.”
Asked what Nango’s position was on sanctions, Mabwe said the NGOs were in a process of consulting with its board, regions, sectors and stakeholders.
“Once that process is finalised, the organisation will be prepared to share its position on this and any other emerging issues with all stakeholders including the media,” Mabwe said.
A director with a local NGO who declined to be named admitted that the NGO community was scared of spoiling its relationship with its donors.
But, Mabwe dismissed this assertion and said Nango’s position was driven by respect for due internal process that must happen before any policy position is adopted.