By Tafadzwa Masango
AMONG the documents that chronicle the rise of the MDC as an opposition political party is a chapter which deals with the rise of NGOs and CSOs as well as their ‘democratisation’.
A 2003 US Institute for Peace (USIP) report titled ‘Zimbabwe and the prospects for non-violent political change’ takes note of the rise of new civic coalitions and their influence on local politics.
It reads: “The newer focus of NGOs on governance, advocacy and political change departed significantly from the earlier civic orientation. This change is at the heart of concerns by government and some social critics that NGOs are involved in politics and are too closely aligned with and compromised by Western donor interests.”
USIP is a conservative and warlike GONGO (government-organised non-governmental organisation), whose chairman was Chester Crocker between 1992-2002, and counts as one of its key achievements in Zimbabwe the coming together of civic organisations under the NCA in 1997.
The USIP gave birth to the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, whose members comprise some of the most senior Western politicians ever put together to work on a foreign project.
These are the men and women who are the brains and money behind the activities of various pseudo CSOs and NGOs whose main thrust is to lay the groundwork for the MDC.
USIP was established in 1984 during the Ronald Reagan’s administration.
It is an extremely conservative institute that ‘manufactures domestic consent for wars, military interventions and regime change operations in the name of advancing freedom and democracy.
It employs academics from the US foreign policy establishment and rightwing think tanks.
The CIA has been authorised to assign officers to the institute on a rotating basis.
In one of its reports, the USIP expounds on its role in the creation of civic society organisations in Zimbabwe.
Of note is a detailed brief on the formation of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) which it says was a response to “…conflicts over strategies, relationships with Government and the MDC.”
The driving force behind CiZC formation in 2001 was the crisis caused by ‘conflicts over strategy’ as the USIP was disturbed by conflicting impressions in the NGO.
The real story behind the birth of CiZC
There were conflicting impressions in the NGO sector when some NGOs applauded Government actions in respect of some of the black empowerment strategies it had taken.
Nicholas Ndebele, who took over as ZimRights director from Reginald Matshaba-Hove, wrote to then President Robert Mugabe in 1998 praising him for Zimbabwe’s intervention in the DRC on grounds that the intervention stopped genocide in that country.
Ndebele also presented a paper at the South Africa Land Reform lawyers workshop in around the same period which hailed Government for embarking on the Land Reform Programme.
He also wrote to Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay condemning the preferential treatment accorded murderous doctor, Richard McGown by the Zimbabwean court system.
Ndebele’s unguarded defiant and patriotic stance demonstrated to the purveyors of regime change the need for overarching control of the existing NGO sector if they were to conduct viable regime change project through the use of NGOs.
This led to the creation of CiZC which would direct, supervise, guide and account for the actions and statements made by over 300 NGOs and 15 other NGO coalitions under it.
In other words, the CiZC was created to be a dictatorship over all other NGOs, in all sectors and ensure compliance with the dictates of regime change sponsors.
NGOs and CSOs are the gateway to Zimbabweans
A senior director of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Africa Programme, Dave Petersen, is quoted as having said that in Zimbabwe, NED has been “…successful in building a strong and vital programme of support to civil society, including the media, political parties and trade unions.”
In light of this background, it comes as no surprise that NED lists the following local NGO/CSOs as being on its payroll: Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe (MISA), Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and CiZC.
NED records which were previously open to the public, until it became obvious that they were exposing its hand in the regime change agenda in the developing world, were pulled from the public domain but show CiZC is a regular recipient of its funds.
In 2005 it received a grant to “…hold monthly meetings on issues of food insecurity, the security forces and elections.”
It also receives a grant to “…organise a media campaign that will seek to provide alternatives to state-sponsored media.”
Further Western involvement in the NGO/CSO sector for the purposes of regime change is contained in an April 5 2007 US State Department report which said that it had, “…sponsored public events that presented economic and social analyses discrediting the Government’s excuses for its failed policies.”
The same report boasts that the US had “…sponsored and supported several township newspapers” and chronicles the use of radio as a way of gaining a foothold in the control and dissemination of information supporting the regime change agenda to the populace.
One of the key takes from all this is that, NGOs/CSOs are a way of circumventing direct funding to political parties and to also hoodwink targeted governments into believing that there is no direct link between Western-sponsored opposition parties and their appendages masquerading as CSOs.
CSOs paving the way for the MDC
At the beginning of this month, CiZC held a workshop which was facilitated by some foreign nationals (Americans and Europeans) under the theme ‘The crisis of legitimacy in Zimbabwe’.
The main purpose of the workshop was to agree on strategies to be employed to force ZANU PF to form either a GNU with the opposition or a Transitional Authority.
It was agreed that CSOs would be used as the driving force that would push Zimbabweans to revolt against Government.
The vehicles to push this revolt would be rallies, demonstrations and manipulation of the media to disseminate messages that would turn the masses against Government.
The workshop provided the key players in CSO sector of the regime change project to once again revisit their modus operandi.
Among the matters discussed were issues to once again ensure that all CSOs come under the CiZC tent in order to give it weight and reclaim its former glory as the voice of civic organisations in Zimbabwe.
The workshop is just but a first step in attempts to further the ‘legitimacy’ question which the MDC Alliance fronted by the infantile Nelson Chamisa has failed to articulate and ride upon to push for a GNU with ZANU PF.
What can be expected now is that CCZ will be fed a ‘grand master plan’ on how to articulate the so-called legitimacy question.
It can be expected that, soon, funds will be pouring in and those central to the project will suddenly be rolling in money, spending like there is no tomorrow, reading from the same page as former quislings who have fronted CSOs since the late 1990s.
We can expect new wives, cars, houses and all manner of extravagances.
For many of us, this is nothing new.
We can say, we have been here before, the faces might have changed, but the regime change agenda has not.