Let us just imagine that I establish an NGO (non-governmental organization), whose stated objective is to represent the interests of people who love to spend their spare time fishing (anglers), and then, it so happens that the government of the day awards dubious mining permits to questionable companies, whose operations degrade the environment adjacent major water bodies – in stark violation to legal statutes – thereby, threatening the viability of both these water bodies, and the aquatic life within, more so, the fish that my organization’s members are interested in.
How are we expected to respond as an NGO?
Are we to remain quiet, as if nothing of the sort ever took place?
Maybe, should we merely stop fishing, fold our operations, pack up and go away, with our tails between our legs?
I think not.
As an organization that represents the interests of those involved in fishing – we would have a mandate to stand up against these clear violations of the law by the government, in unscrupulously awarding these mining permits that threaten to destroy aquatic life, and should there be found to be the complicit involvement of the highest offices in the country for such corrupt activities, we would also be expected to speak up.
Therefore, would the government have a leg to stand on, by accusing an organization of anglers – that has decided to speak out against these nefarious activities by the country’s ruling elite – of diverting from our mandate, and meddling in the country’s political affairs?
Such is the scenario faced by Zimbabwe at the moment – characterized by a panicked regime, that has been gripped by crippling paranoia, as they lack confidence in freely and fairly winning the coming 2023 harmonized elections, due to growing unpopularity – which has made it a point in disingenuously accusing NGOs operating in the country of unlawfully ditching their stated objectives, for an unsavory career in our internal political dynamics.
What wrong have these NGOs precisely committed?
If for instance, a teacher-representative body adamantly refuses the accept the grand theft of their salaries by their employer (the government) – which were contractually pegged at US$520 per month as at September 2018, yet have since been both immorally and unlawfully reduced to US$200 – would it be wrong if they steadfastly stood up against this illegality by the regime?
Could they be justifiably accused of being political?
As a matter of fact, who is not political?
If your salary – which could afford you to pay accommodation rentals, buy sufficient basic commodities (and, in addition, some comfortable luxuries) and, to meet all other needs, such as children’s school fees, medical expenses, and so much more, each and every month – is no longer enough to even pay for just the electricity bill, due to government economic mismanagement and incompetence, as well as rampant high level corruption…who do you blame?
Would that not be being political?
In fact, is it not common knowledge that, whenever Zimbabweans meet, their main subject of discussion – even amongst those who hardly know each other – is how the country’s ruling elite have ruined their livelihoods?
If those in power did not know this, then they should spend more time mixing and mingling with the ordinary people on the streets – if they are not afraid of being manhandled by angry mobs.
Are those in those high offices seriously telling us that they are not aware of the numerous innocent citizens who have been arrested, and hauled before the courts, on charges of insulting the president – a law that was declared unconstitutional way back?
Thus, why would this same administration allege that there are NGOs that are diverting from their stated mandates – by delving into politics, thereby threatening their deregistration – as if they are ignorant of the fact that, each and everything that affects human development has a political aspect to it?
Whether I will have something to eat tonight, or will go to bed hungry – will largely be determined by the political nature of the country – and, any attempts by the ruling elite to deny this truth is nothing short of a dishonest ploy to ward off justified scrutiny and criticism.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: email@example.com