BY Obert Masaraure OF late, the State-controlled media has been publishing a predictable pattern of defamatory, propaganda articles that allege that civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition are seeking to destabilise and topple the government. Their running theme has been that we want to effect regime change in the country.
The latest of these unfounded allegations appeared in The Sunday Mail of May 22, 2022 under the malicious title: NGOs plot to unsettle Zim exposed. The proposal documents and account numbers of the coalition published in The Sunday Mail, purporting to be a scoop, are in fact documents that the coalition submitted to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in compliance with the tax laws of the land.
We have taken note though not surprised that the regime can stoop so low as to use private information submitted in confidence to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to score cheap propaganda points. So much about “open for business.” This is shameful.
The malicious allegations contained in the State’s propaganda pieces are but a desperate attempt to find a scapegoat for the Zanu PF government’s inability to run the country and its economy.
The Zanu PF government is evidently in a panic mode as evidence of failure has increasingly become too apparent. These are clearly desperate attempts to intimidate those calling out its failures. It now seems more determined to close any remaining democratic space.
For the record, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is an umbrella body drawing membership from across the church, labour, women, youths, students, farmers, war veterans, the informal sector, formal business and social movements working broadly to see a democratic and economically developed Zimbabwe.
Again, for the record, we remain non-partisan but very political. The issues we collectively engage span the political, economic and social spheres — and the Constitution of the republic provides for our varied mandates, hence our existence.
We are not and have never been agents of terror. In fact, much of what we see, experience and fight in Zimbabwe, is State-sponsored terror that dates back to the 1980s, when an estimated 20 000 civilians lost their lives; many others were subjected to rape, abduction, displacement, and torture under the Zanu PF government.
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This rape, abduction, unwarranted arrest, detention and public malignment by Zanu PF propagandists have grown to be a familiar affair. All those that challenge the excesses of the ruling Zanu PF party, including those within Zanu PF itself, suffer the same consequences.
We want to set the record straight and affirm that all our activities as a coalition, those of our members and other civil society actors are legitimate and legal. The Zanu PF government often send its State security agents, especially from the Police Internal Security Intelligence, informers and serving agents of the Central Intelligence Organisation to attend civil society activities, and we always accommodate them. This is because we have nothing to hide.
It is evident that a small clique in the Zanu PF government wants to turn this country into a one party State, in its mistaken belief of turning Zimbabwe into a mini communist kingdom which does not hold elections.
This small clique, which is averse to history, has slowly derailed the country from the post-independence dream of a Zimbabwe which affords all its citizens a decent life, of equal opportunity and access to basic goods and services. This quest by the small clique in Zanu PF flies in the face of the popular values for which we fought during the protracted liberation war.
Father Zimbabwe Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo’s statement remains true 42 years after independence, that: “… the people of Zimbabwe live in fear, not of enemies, but their own government.”
We have taken note of these shameful efforts by the State-controlled media to fuel the persecution of human rights defenders through malicious and false allegations. This is clearly meant to scare human rights defenders from holding the small kleptocratic clique in Zanu PF to account. We will, however, not be deterred.
Our interests are legitimate as well as constitutional. Section 7 of the Constitution empowers and mandates us to educate Zimbabweans on their rights.
- To fight for workers’ rights is not regime change.
- To fight against corruption and State stripping is not regime change.
- To fight for women, youth, children, PWDs is not regime change.
- To fight for decent and affordable education or health is not regime change.
- To fight for clean and potable water is not regime change.
- To fight for a decent and safe transport system is not regime change.
- To fight for an inclusive and consistent economic policy is not regime change.
- To fight for a non-partisan police force that ensures the security of all citizens, regardless of political party affiliation is not regime change.
- To fight against the mutilation of our Constitution through unwarranted amendments by a self-serving clique wanting to retain political power for the sake of it is not regime change.
- Above all, to fight for the upholding of the Constitution is not regime change.
To set the record straight, citizens have a right to participate in political processes as enshrined in section 67 of the Constitution. If anything, section 67 of the Constitution allows the citizens to change any regime or government in this country. According to this section as read with others, changing a regime or government in this country is not illegal and is not a crime. That is the whole essence of going to elections.
The Constitution, therefore, provides for regime change by allowing citizens to vote and choose a government of their choice. The small clique in Zanu PF must know this and know that the citizens are aware of this right and will, therefore, not hesitate to exercise it.
Again, citizens have a right to hold the government to account through peaceful protests as enshrined in section 59 of the Constitution.
So the small clique in Zanu PF and its propagandists must know that the routine threats through malicious and false reporting will only strengthen our resolve, rather than cow us into submission. We have done no wrong and we will continue to pursue our work in defence of the constitutional rights we all ought to enjoy.
Defending these fundamental rights and freedoms is our small contribution towards keeping alive the values and virtues of the liberation struggle and our hard won independence.
In this regard, we remain firm and unshaken in our resolve to fight for a democratic, corruption free, economically developed Zimbabwe, where progress is inclusive and benefits all citizens.
We encourage President Mnangagwa and his government to abide by the tenets and spirit of our national Constitution. The rule of law and constitutionalism must be the common denominator in terms of how our country is governed. Zimbabwe is for all irrespective of political party, ethnicity, gender or race.
- Obert Masaraure is the spokesperson of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition