BY LORRAINE MUROMO/RICHARD MUPONDE
CIVIC society organisations (CSOs) yesterday said they were unfazed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s threats to deregister them over allegations that they are pursuing a regime change agenda.
On Wednesday, while addressing a Zanu PF politburo meeting, Mnangagwa issued a stern warning to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) accusing them of meddling in the country’s politics.
He said his government would not hesitate to deregister NGOs threatening the sovereignty of the country.
Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana took to Twitter to say: “As the election season unfolds, we are observing a notable number of NGOs diverting from their operational mandates to delve into political matters, that amounts to interference in the internal affairs of our sovereign country.”
But yesterday, the NGOs said they were unmoved by Mnangagwa’s threats and would continue to discharge their duties without fear.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said CSOs would remain guided by the laws of the country.
“What we will do as CSOs is that we will be guided by the laws of the country,” Khumalo said.
“You would recall that we wrote to Harare provincial development co-ordinator Tafadzwa Muguti requesting that he furnishes us with the pieces of legislation that support his directives because as CSOs, we will be comfortable to do things that are within the confines of the law.
“We don’t want to go outside the provisions of the Constitution and other pieces of legislation.”
He added: “We are not taking it as tough times ahead so far. What these people are saying at this point in time are just threats. We are not inviting sideshows as of now because politicians will always try to possibly distract us from our mandate and scope of work. We will not be drawn in.”
Khumalo said while NGOs appreciated that the statement by Mnangagwa was made while addressing a Zanu PF politburo meeting, they were also a live to the fact that the politburo was not a government structure.
“We wait for further engagements through normal government procedures and we are not worried with what political parties say behind closed doors. We will be guided by the law,” he said.
Political analyst Ashton Bumhira said: “The only way out of this situation is national dialogue to resolve the political and economic crisis affecting the country.
“In Zimbabwe, the social contract is broken and the current government is seeing shadows and is very paranoid. Government is suffering from a deficit of legitimacy from the 2018 disputed elections and from failing to deliver on electoral processes.”
Heal Zimbabwe Trust programmes manager Edknowledge Mandikwaza said NGOs were a critical development partner that complemented government, hence restricting their operations destroyed creativity in addressing the socio-economic challenges facing the country.
“Instead of restricting the civic space, government must appreciate that most social services that it can’t provide are being provided by CSOs that it is intending to criminalise,” Mandikwaza said.
Threats against NGOs started last month when Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba blasted the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Young Lawyers Association and Law Society of Zimbabwe for launching court challenges against constitutional amendments.