By Nick Mangwana
Over the past few weeks, Government has closely monitored activities of a coalition of non-governmental organisations in the country, especially in and around Harare. It has become obvious that there is deliberate plan to undermine and challenge the prevailing constitutional oreder born out of the 2018 July 30 Harmonised Elections which were democratic, free and fair, and which were which were subsequently upheld by the highest court of the land. This brazenly unconstitutional plan which has sought financial support from some regime change organisations based in America and Germany among other countries represents a serious threat to our consolidating democracy, to the rule of law in our country, and to the authority of Government and the State. Government is under no illusion as to the intentions and import of this plan which is being partly orchestrated by through the social media.
While Sections 58 and 59 of our Constitution grant freedom of assembly and association, and the right to demonstrate and petition, these rights do not sanction the subversion of the constitutional order and the rule of law. Furthermore, they do not condone any activities designed and calculated to impede or stop broad socio-economic activity in the country, including challenging the right and entitlement of the rest of the citizenry to a normal, lawful, safe, secure and productive daily life. Should that happen, the State, through the Government of the day, is mandated to step in with appropriate firmness, and on the strength of a mix of lawful instruments at its disposal, to protect and restore law and order in the Republic for the benefit of the ordinary citizenry. This is the more so when intelligence available to Government clearly point to a foreign hand bent on aiding and abetting such chaos. Government is aware of the involvement of non-citizens in the orchestration of this futile exercise. Government will not hesitate to take action against such persons by withdrawing their visas, deporting them and declaring them persona non grata. Government thus wishes to make it known to all those who have been conspiring to subvert peace, law and order in the country that it will respond appropriately. Both these unlawful meetings and treasonable liaisons with foreign organisations must stop forthwith.
In respect of political “NGOs” currently grouped as the so-called Zimbabwe Civil Society Convergence (ZCSC), and which have been meeting at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Offices and elsewhere, Government sternly warns them against overstepping their mandates, and against overplaying their hand. They were never registered to operate as a disguised political force in the country, or to be a substitute for the popular will of the Zimbabwean people by wielding the power to revise outcomes of the Harmonised Elections of July 30, let alone by abridging the tenure of that democratic outcome. Zimbabwe is an open system allowing for direct political competition in accordance with set rules and schedules. What Government will not allow or countenance is the pursuit of politics disguised as non-governmental work, or politics using NGOs as some Trojan horse. Equally, Government will not allow or tolerate the abuse of the social media and social media platforms in the name of freedom of, access to, information.
Government fully recognises the place and role of the Opposition in our body-politic. However, Government will not accept a situation where opposition parties disguise themselves as NGOs or as civic groups both to secure condonation for unlawful acts such as sponsoring civil unrest, and to avoid abiding by and submitting to given electoral outcomes which did not favour them. Rules of democracy and elections bid all actors to submit to ballot outcomes and, more importantly, to strictly follow and abide by the national electoral calendar.
Lastly, government wishes to remind trade union leaders that the cause of the worker can never be advanced through subversive political activities. Such an association is sure to ill-serve their well-meaning membership which expects and deserves a clean and honest leadership that avoids dabbling in opposition politics.
Mangwana is the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.