Election field must be evened up

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Editorial comment

MOST non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Zimbabwe that masquerade as champions of ‘human rights and democracy’ have turned out to be fronts for Western donors determined to effect regime change in this country by hook or by crook

Over the years, so-called Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) have been working in cahoots with like-minded local political parties to achieve their aim.

The Western-created MDC, in particular, has become their bosom friend.

This is in direct contrast to their assumed mission of advancing democracy, good governance and social well-being of societies in which they operate.

Instead, it looks like funds earmarked for that purpose are being diverted to further the interests of a nominated political party.

This is unacceptable.

That is why we fully support the Government’s proposed amended law to ban funding of and lobbying for political parties or candidates by NGOs.

The PVOs Amendment Bill gazetted last week will be able to do just that when passed into law.

The new amended law will comply with the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) recommendations which seek to stop non-profit entities from being infiltrated by terrorist organisations.

Such organisations may use NGOs as conduits for clandestine terrorist financing or money laundering. This should not be surprising as some PVOs are abandoning their mandates and have taken leading roles in destructive political activities using money dispensed by Western donors.

And all this on behalf of the MDC.

When the Bill becomes law, financing political parties will be in breach of the Political Parties Financing Act.

And Zimbabwe is not alone in controlling funding of political parties during elections.

In Britain, the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act (2000) prohibits foreign funding of British political parties.

Meddling in Zimbabwean politics by NGOs has been a common feature for some time.

And, as we approach the 2023 harmonised general elections, a new breed of NGOs determined to fight in the MDC corner has emerged.

With the impending 2023 polls, the US, through USAID, has already set aside a war chest of US$5 million for NGOs, ostensibly for promoting democracy.

However, history tells us this is not so.

Obviously, the main reason is to re-enforce the regime change momentum.

When a Government official recently asked NGOs, CSOs and PVOs to submit their schedules for monitoring, the hue and cry that followed was deafening.

No doubt they panicked, because of their political involvement designed to effect regime change.

They felt ill at ease to have these monitored.

If their activities were limited to genuine provision of humanitarian relief, such as food aid, health, education and promotion of democracy and constitutionalism, they would have had nothing to hide.

It was not surprising that Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Zimbabwe Human Rights (ZimRights) led the charge.

We are sure the new amended law will take care of all this.

We often hear of the need to level the political playing field for elections to be free and fair.

Two major obstacles that have always tilted the field heavily in favour of the MDC are the illegal sanctions and the generous clandestine funding of NGOs by the West.

Sanctions are meant to make the economy ‘scream’ and make the voter turn against ZANU PF.

The generous financing of the MDC by NGOs through slush funds donated by the US and its allies gives the Western-created outfit a distinct advantage.

Hopefully the new amended law will take care of this.

By the time we go for the general elections in 2023, let’s hope common sense will have prevailed and the illegal sanctions will have been scrapped.

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