Sadly it came as no surprise that the Zanu PF government has refused to criticise Russia for its unprovoked and brutal invasion of neighbouring Ukraine – a close relative and historic friend.
In a vote at the United Nations most of the world condemned the suppression of Ukrainian independence (141 out of 193 UN members). Zimbabwe was among those who abstained while the Russian army was demolishing Ukraine simply because it wanted democracy. It was as if the Zimbabwean military was attacking Zambia because it had elected a progressive president.
Admittedly, South Africa and a number of other African countries beholden to Russian and Chinese patronage and careless of democracy took the same self-serving line (see: https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/un-vote-on-russia-complicates-things-zimbabwe-20220303).
Of course China itself refused to condemn Russia. After all, the Russians had agreed to its request not to steal the headlines while the winter Olympics were being held in China! Together with Russia China is a great partner of Zanu PF, sharing its totalitarian instincts. Worried by domestic criticism of its savage and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, Russian President Putin has threatened a prison sentence of up to 15 years for anyone who criticises him (The Times, Friday 4th March 2022).
President Mnangagwa is doing little less than this in his Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill which seeks to regulate the operations of non-government organisations (NGOs). Civil society organisations say this is an attack on democracy. Apart from anything else, it is estimated that it will cost about 18,000 jobs in the NGO sector and jeopardise NGO contributions to the country of about US $800 million a year (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/zimbabweans-to-pay-dearly-for-draconian-pvo-bill/).
The Bill has been criticised by the UN which said it would gravely affect civic space. And last month the European Union, renewing sanctions against Zimbabwe, said it was one of the oppressive pieces of legislation which showed that Zimbabwe was not improving its democratic principles (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2022/03/ngo-bill-to-cut-18-000-jobs/).
Government Information Secretary Mangwana said the Bill was aimed at curtailing money laundering. But Musa Kika of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said: ‘Mangwana’s statement betrays insincerity. These are statements that pretend to be ignorant of the government’s real intention, which is to bring civil society organisations under undue and excessive governmental control.’
Obert Masaraure. spokesperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said there was no need to introduce new money-laundering laws when there were already sufficient laws to deal with it.
Commentator Rashweat Mukundu said: ‘The PVO Bill has nothing to do with money-laundering and has nothing to do with interference in politics by civil societies or NGOs. Money-laundering laws can be developed without restricting the functions of voluntary organisations.’
Residents Associations Coalition for Electoral Reforms spokesperson Marvelous Khumalo said: ‘We have seen senior government officials and businesspeople who are connected to the ruling party laundering huge sums of money and surely this is not contained in the PVO Bill.’ (See: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2022/03/pvo-bill-has-nothing-to-do-with-money-laundering/.)
- The Daily Maverick says the launch of Nelson Chamisa’s Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) has seen an escalation of state-sponsored violence. It says Zanu PF is back to its old tricks because it is scared of democracy. Daily Maverick says: ‘On 18th February police were filmed beating up screaming CCC members whom they had arrested in Harare CBD allegedly for holding a car rally. In another video, police and a man in civilian clothing who was holding a sjambok were filmed forcing CCC supporters to crawl on all fours. The CCC’s spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, confirmed that police had arrested 13 CCC members and were holding them at the Harare Central police station. A day later, the 13 were taken to court handcuffed to each other. The way the police paraded them in front of the media in their handcuffs was clearly a message to everyone that if you dare support the CCC you will be arrested and tortured. Before they had a chance to apply for bail, the magistrate who was assigned their case, Yeukai Nzuda, said she was tired and would not be able to hear the matter. It was a long weekend, which meant the 13 would be in jail until Tuesday.’ (See: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-02-28-zimbabwes-new-political-party-citizens-coalition-for-change-sparks-fear-and-violence-from-zanu-pf/.)
- Our virtual Vigil activist today was Joyce Mbairatsunga who kindly contributed to Vigil funds. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72177720297140385 for today’s photos.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
Events and Notices:
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