ZANU PF and the two formations of the MDC this week expressed their commitment to alleviate the humanitarian crisis faced by the country with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which sets the agenda for inter-party talks.
President Robert Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, in the MoU signed on Monday agreed to work together to ensure the lifting of a ban on all field operations on humanitarian organisations in order to ensure the safety of displaced political victims.
The MoU reads: “The parties agree that, in the interim, they will work together to ensure the safety of any displaced persons and their safe return home and that humanitarian and social welfare organisations are enabled to render such assistance as might be required.”
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe, the number of displaced people due to the politically motivated violence is estimated at 36 000 with 16 844 confirmed.
Independent observers claim that more than three million Zimbabweans are in need of humanitarian assistance in the form of food, treatment, shelter and repatriation.
The umbrella body for the civil society, the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) on Wednesday challenged the political parties involved in the talks to constructively resolve the humanitarian crisis facing the country.
“We note the commitment by the political parties in their Memorandum of Understanding to the effect that ‘they will work together to ensure that humanitarian and social welfare organisations are enabled to render such assistance as may be required’ and challenge these parties to work constructively to resolve the security complex that has made it difficult for humanitarian agencies to access certain areas and render assistance to vulnerable groups in this politically volatile post-election environment,” said Nango.
“Efforts towards this must of necessity include the depoliticisation of social welfare agencies and local government structures as well as the removal of militant groups from communities.”
Nango said most humanitarian agencies have been unable to resume operations, while waiting for the relevant authorities to pave the way for agencies to operate without undue interference or victimisation of personnel amid the prevailing politically volatile environment.
According to the civil society body, the lives of the elderly, people living with HIV and Aids, orphans and vulnerable children and other groups remain in jeopardy because of the suspension of operations.
Nango said the state was yet to prove its allegations that civil society, during the run up to the March 29 harmonised elections, worked with Tsvangirai’s MDC.
“So far the reasons given for the suspension, such as the investigations into allegations of the politicisation of food aid or the mobilisation of communities for political purposes, are yet to be proven by the state,” said Nango.
By Lucia Makamure