MASVINGO Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti has asked non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to return to the hunger-hit province two years after they were shown the door by his Zanu PF predecessor.
Bhasikiti told a meeting attended by NGOs at the Masvingo Civic Centre last Friday that the government could not go it alone in development projects.
“You are very key and strategic partners to me and the government. You serve our people and make life worth living,” he said.
“We value your existence, which is why I met you ahead of many other groups on my schedule. We want to strengthen our relationship in development.”
The Mwenezi East legislatorsaid the government had realised that fighting the aid agencies was akin to shooting itself in the foot.
Some of the NGOs chased out of the province by former governor Titus Maluleke include those that provided food relief and supported HIV and Aids orphans and patients.
Bhasikiti said there was no need to politicise the work of NGOs.
“We are coming from a period where everything was politicised, but now light is dawning on us that there is little benefit in politicking,” he said.
“What makes life go ahead is real work and projects on the ground to better our people.
“We are faced with several challenges, but we cannot address them on our own. That is why you are here.
“You identify niche areas and fill the void in your programmes. It is not cast in stone how you are going to intervene, but that is our expectation.
“Make sure you address such challenges. This meeting is meant to give you highlights of what we expect from you.”
Bhasikiti said government had identified four key areas where NGOs could intervene and these were dealing with food shortages, dilapidated infrastructure, poor social services and value addition in minerals.
“Food security is a challenge and you can address it from different angles. Your programmes should reduce poverty,” he said.
“Plan your programmes with some of these challenges in mind.”
He assured the NGOs that there would be no political interference in their work.
Zanu PF has in the past accused NGOs of working with its opponents to try and effect regime change in the country.