By Mbekezeli Ncube
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has ‘poisoned’ the unity that existed among a coalition of civil society organisations in Matabeleland leading to a messy fallout, with a splinter group now accusing the other of associating with the enemy.
Mnangagwa is a hated figure in Matabeleland because of his role in the early 1980s Gukurahundi massacres in which some 20 000 civilians died in the hands of the military.
He was state security minister at the time, who allegedly played an active part and further incited the onslaught on innocent civilians who were accused by government of harbouring armed deserters from the national army who were causing terror in the region.
Late national hero Dumiso Dabengwa’s Foundation has joined over a dozen Matabeleland civil society groups that have split from the umbrella Matabeleland Collective (MC) to form a new group called Matabeleland Forum (MF).
MC is a coalition of civic society groups that include charity groups, Non-Governmental Organisations and churches within the region.
The newly formed Matabeleland Forum is accusing MC of failing to live up to its formation objectives, that is, pushing for development in the marginalised region, accountable leadership and equality.
Tension among the groups was brought sometime last year when some of the groups met Mnangagwa at State House in Bulawayo last year.
This did not go down well with the rest that felt it was taboo to jump into bed with the enemy amid fears the groups were opening themselves to capture by the national leader and his Zanu PF party.
Organisations that have broken from MC include the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association, Christian Legal Society, Community Youth Development Trust, Habukkuk Trust, Centre for Innovation and Technology, Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation, National Youth Development Trust, Ukuthula Trust, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance Masakhaneni Trust among several others.
Addressing journalists about the development on Friday, Director of the Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation, Mthulisi Hanana said the new group members “have agreed to reorganise ourselves into a non-partisan loose coalition of Civil Society Organisations that are promoting genuine debate on historical experiences and current developments that are pertinent to the Matabeleland region”.
“It is in this spirit that we disassociate ourselves with the Matabeleland Collective as the grouping has derailed from its original values of accountable leadership, acknowledgement of equality, inclusivity and autonomy amongst its members,” Hanana said.
He also said the organisations that have left MC explored all available avenues of conflict resolution within the coalition, but all effort was in vain.
“Decision making with the Matabeleland Collective continues to be limited to a few self-appointed individuals even though the impact of such decisions affects all the members.
“There have been no genuine efforts towards dealing with concerns by members on the alleged capture of the Matabeleland Collective by partisan forces existing outside it.”