Govt targeting civil society leaders – group claims

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By Kingston Ndabatei

WITH tensions rising as Zimbabwe’s economic problems hurtle towards tipping point, a civil society group has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of hatching a sinister plot against its leadership.

In a panicky statement, Sunday, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) said it is deeply concerned by the recent sustained attacks by the government on civil society and was aware of a grand plan targeting its leadership including a smear campaign involving the State media. 

“We have followed and observed with utter dismay accusations levelled against the organisation as attempting to subvert a constitutional order by effecting an illegal regime change agenda and inciting citizens to revolt against the state,” said the CiZC.

“Numerous articles and press briefings have appeared in state owned media (electronic, print and broadcast) issued by the government and senior officials accusing the Coalition of hosting numerous meetings whose purported agenda is to unseat the Mnangagwa administration.” 

The civil society grouping said it finds the statements to be unfortunate and driven by malice, given that the opposition has consistently called for dialogue with the Zanu PF government.  

Mnangagwa, after initially indicating he had no problems with civil society and pressure groups, has turned to demonising anti-establishment organisations claiming they are being funded by foreign governments as part of a “regime change agenda”.

Losing presidential candidate and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa wants talks with Mnangagwa in the aftermath of the disputed July 30 elections controversially won by the former liberation movement but the Zanu PF frontman argues there is no need.

Said CiZC: “The idea of dialogue is predicated on bridging the gap between government and its citizens with a view of re-establishing the Social Contract, strengthen social protection for the citizen by developing a shared and agreed national recovery and stabilisation road map with key reform areas that will arrest the current national crisis and rebuild confidence in the state.”

It added that Mnangagwa’s government has a “bigger plot to target the Coalition’s leadership and its members and partners in the wake of increasing discontent among a cross section of stakeholders in Zimbabwe that include labour and business.

“CiZC, as part of its values and belief system upholds and encourages lawful and peaceful interaction between the state and its citizens in accordance with the Constitution.

“We therefore call upon government, public officials and government agencies to desist from creating a fictitious narrative meant to intimidate civil society and its leaders and restate our position that Zimbabwe is in a crisis that requires a sober leadership and an honest inclusive dialogue process to alleviate the suffering among citizens,” the statement said.

Mnangagwa claims Chamisa wants to use willing non-governmental organisations to create anarchy in the country and force a change of administration less than a year after losing the general election a claim the opposition has vehemently denied.