Journos, NGOs say unperturbed by CIO

via Journos, NGOs say unperturbed by CIO – NewZimbabwe 01 March 2015

LOCAL NGOs and media groups have said they are unperturbed by revelations that the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), together with the South African intelligence, are spying on their activities.

The spying project was revealed in South African espionage secrets leaked to the Doha-headquartered global news network Al-Jazeera, and British newspaper The Guardian last week.

The snoop, it was further revealed, was targeting “rogue” NGOs and “subversive” media.

But some NGOs and media groups told weekend that they had nothing to hide and were unmoved by the covert operations.

Southern Africa human rights researcher and former Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chair, Dehwa Mavhinga, described the operation as an act of criminality.

“Snooping on NGOs by government is illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of the right to privacy,” he said.

“There is no justification whatsoever for government to engage in criminality.”

Mavhinga challenged the State to engage NGOs openly if it was unclear about the activities of some NGOs.

President Robert Mugabe’s regime has been accused of massive corruption and human rights abuses, among some of the crimes, and has maintained tough relations with western sponsored local NGOs who have continued to expose its excesses.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Irene Petras said the operations of her organisation were clean and did not warrant any snooping by the state.

“Our work is very open and people know what we are doing, so there is no reason for them to be snooping on what we are doing,” said Petras adding that the prominent rights group has never shied away from the State.

“We know that there are certain elements of the State that are very paranoid about organisations that talk about accountability, that refuse to accept impunity or human rights violations and perhaps those paranoid types of people and organisations that waste time and tax payers’ monies looking for shadows where they do not exist.”

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general Raymond Majongwe also dismissed the CIO activities saying spy operations against his organisation were common.

Similarly, media groups said they will not be disoriented by the operation with Daily News editor Stanley Gama denying his publication suits the list of so-called “subversive” media.

“…We are also not worried about being spied on by anyone, as we have absolutely nothing to hide,” he said.

“Should anyone embark on the alleged spying against us, it would have little impact on our operations because we operate openly, legally and ethically all the time.”

Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe director Nhlanhla Ngwenya described the operation as “illogical” but was quick to say this was now common with the country’s meddlesome state institutions.

“No one should be surprised by these revelations,” he said.

“We know that snooping is taking place illegally. What is worrying is that this is taking place in a platform that is supposed to enhance debate, dialogue and exchange of views.

“So it is clearly aimed at instilling fear among the mediators of that public sphere in this case the media so that they do not exercise their duty of providing space for debate, dialogue and inform Zimbabweans.”

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo could not be reached for comment.

But his permanent secretary George Charamba said he would not discuss state security issues through the media.

“I don’t discuss state security in newspapers, whether it’s a comment for or against, it amounts to validating that report which relates to security Sir; we don’t do that in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“The media must not be prompted by the revelations to scrutinise the behaviour of state security apparatus.

“This is where l have a problem with you again, l will repeat, be your own man, don’t get prompted by foreigners.”