By Nkosana Dlamini
TOP anti-corruption watchdog, Information for Development Trust has dismissed as false and malicious, State claims that it was among prominent local groups on the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) payroll to pursue a regime change plot against the Zanu PF led government.
A leaked document places IDT top of a list of some 23 prominent local NGOs that include, Zimbabwe Peace Project, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, plotting against the establishment.
According to the document, IDT is guilty of originating “fake and politically motivated corruption stories targeting senior Zanu PF members so as to promote divisions within the ruling party”.
The document further says the anti-graft group “bootlicks the opposition MDC Alliance and is controlled by the American Embassy in Harare”.
Responding to the claims, IDT said it was extremely disturbed by what it described as malicious claims.
“All these allegations are deliberately false and are being strategically circulated on social media to divert people’s attention from the real problems that Zimbabwe is facing, particularly ahead of the government-sanctioned protests against the so-called sanctions on 25 October 2019,” IDT said in a Thursday statement.
A registered quasi-media anti-corruption group, IDT was formed 2016 to help capacitate local journalists with the mental and material tools to pursue complex corruption cases that were being shunned by Zimbabwe’s mainstream papers because of their time consuming and financially taxing nature.
Because of the vacuum, much of the rampant public sector corruption that has bled the economy for decades, went largely unreported.
Since it started operating as a legal entity in the country, IDT has produced 20 corruption stories, none of which have been challenged, legally or otherwise by those implicated in the articles.
Said the group in its statement, “This is because we have always taken enough care to encourage the journalists to back the stories with solid evidence and to adhere to the cardinal ethical tenets of accuracy, truth, balance, right of reply and objectivity. It is, therefore, clearly wrong to describe the stories commissioned by IDT as fake.
“We would also like to emphasise that IDT is an independent and professional outfit with a clear vision, goals and objectives that are centred around our love for and commitment to Zimbabwe.
“We are an intelligent and proud team that cannot reduce itself to puppets for any reason. We formulated those goals and objectives well before we entered into any funding partnership.”
Added the anti-graft group, “Information relating to who is funding us is public knowledge. It can be accessed by anyone online and we agreed to that because there is nothing to hide or criminal about it.
“The malicious report that is currently circulating gives the false impression that its authors did thorough intelligence work to expose us when it is common cause that anyone has access to the information on our partners.”
In a related development, IDT national coordinator Tawanda Majoni revealed that his email account has been hacked by unknown persons.
Attempts to lump IDT and other pro-democracy groups into a government perceived axis of evil, come just as the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has written to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights pleading for the continental rights promoter’s intervention into government’s renewed crackdown on human rights defenders.