CSOs hit hard times

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By Tafadzwa Masango

THERE is this song by some of the continent’s notable young stars, P-Square and Akon.
The song, ‘Chop My Money’, loosely translated means ‘spend my money’ and is about a young man who has ‘plenty of money’ and is telling this young beautiful woman that he does not care how much of his money she spends because he is smitten by her and wants to be with her at whatever cost.
Stephen Gowan writes that the US developed a standard plan for ‘colour revolutions’.
The State Department, with the assistance of civil society scholars, aka regime change experts, developed a formula in the form of steps to be taken when executing regime change against any targeted government.
He identified the seven stages as follows:
Stage One
“Denounce the elected leader of the targeted country as a dictator.
Cast serious doubt about the legitimacy of the election that got the leader into power.
Claim the leader is anti-democratic; violates his people’s rights; rigs elections and generally accuse him of serious misrule.
Stage Two
The US, Britain and other Western governments provide financial support, expertise and other assistance to civil society, the media and opposition parties operating under a single banner to remove the ‘dictator’. (Where these institutions do not exist, new ones are formed, funded and made operational).
Stage Three
Make the next election campaign the setting to force the government to step down.
Denounce the fact that the election is being held in the first place.
Call it a disgraceful attempt by the dictator to seek and claim legitimacy.
Assess all preparations by the targeted government for the election as designed to rig the election.
Stage Four
The opposition party, civil society and the local media, in advance, allege that the election will be rigged.
This view is dutifully trumpeted by Western media, who whenever imperial economic interests are threatened, turn themselves into propaganda mouthpieces of their governments.
Stage Five
Before the election results are announced, the opposition and ‘independent’ election monitors announce an opposition victory.
Stage Six
If the official results are not in the opposition’s favour, denounce the vote as fraudulent and encourage people to take the battle into the streets.
Stage Seven
In the West, public opinion is mobilised by the media focusing exclusively on what the opposition and civil society say.
The view of the governing party is completely shut out.”
Any right-thinking Zimbabwean can pinpoint particular events over the past 19 years where the opposition, Western countries and civil society have implemented each of the various stages identified by Gowans.
Even in this election cycle, the opposition and civil society have been acting out various stages of this formula.
They are playing out a script that was handed to them some years back, because, frankly, it has worked elsewhere across the globe – Rose Revolution (Georgia), Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and Tulip Revolution (Kyrgyzstan).
That there is an ongoing narrative which seeks to cast President Emmerson Mnangagwa as unfit to govern is not news.
It is ironic that the very opposition that heralded his coming into office in November 2017 and attended his inauguration today question his legitimacy.
The same civil society organisations (CSOs) and opposition that celebrated the removal of Justice Rita Makarau as Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson, and welcomed her replacement, Justice Priscilla Chigumba, today accuse her of being unfit to lead the electoral body.
Why the volte-face, if one might ask?
It is all about discrediting the electoral processes so that the opposition comes into power via the back door, either through a negotiated settlement or through foreign intervention.
Interestingly enough, in this election, the discrediting is not limited to the governing party, ZANU PF, and the electoral process but to anyone who might want to positively and objectively analyse developments in the country.
Over the past two months, as a nation, we have watched in shock as opposition politicians shed any form of decorum and attacked anyone who criticised them or seemed to cast ZANU PF and Government in positive light.
Equally shocking have been the fake reports of human rights abuses, infractions and outright lies concerning ZANU PF activities by some unscrupulous opposition leaders and civil society.
Allegations of abuse, intimidation and electoral infractions have always been the opposition and its pundits’ mainstay because is justifies their raison d’ȇtre.
Unfortunately this time around, there have been very few incidents and this has meant that this route of discrediting ZANU PF and ZEC is all but closed.
Those whose livelihoods are hinged on negative reports regarding ZANU PF have watched helplessly from the sidelines as opportunities for funding and grants slip away.
Stage Two is where I want to place some focus because it has a bearing on the nonsense that we have been witnessing every election cycle.
As I have pointed out in previous submissions, millions have been spent on the regime change agenda for close to two decades.
It is now common knowledge that there are various ways for one to access donor funding in Zimbabwe.
Among these are, claiming that your life is in danger from ZANU PF, Government or the security forces.
How do you do this?: Insult the President and get arrested, a police admission of guilt form unlocks doors for you among donors.
If you are a journalist, write a negative story about a government official or two and make unsubstantiated claims that you were visited by some ‘gentlemen in dark glasses’ and voila you are shortlisted for a scholarship abroad!
Provoke security agents, hold an unsanctioned rally or protest, or anything that can get the attention of the authorities and then claim your rights have been violated.
Civil society groups such as Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights and the Counselling Service Unit have played a significant role in dramatising the alleged human rights violations and doctoring medical reports of the so-called victims of ZANU PF’s brutal regime.
Some of the patients treated by these groups appeared for cameras over the years mummified in bandages only to be seen days later as fit as fiddles.
No one raised a pip about these anomalies because they fed into the going narrative – portray ZANU PF and Government as an abuser of human rights and the opposition as the innocent victim of an oppressive system.
In fact, there was an unwritten rule that no form of misconduct within the opposition and civil society would be reported by the so-called independent media, nor would any abuse or criminal activity on the part of senior officials be reported and acted against as this would destabilise the regime change agenda and provide ZANU PF with ammunition. Because there was no proper oversight of how money was being spent on the regime change agenda, it was liable to abuse and our very clever Zimbabweans – 96 percent literacy I believe – did what they know best, ‘vakadya mari yemarema’.
One has to understand the origins of most of the civil society organisations operating in Zimbabwe in order to pinpoint events of recent days where the local US Embassy announced that USAID had cut funding to CSOs ahead of this year’s election.
CSOs are part of the soft power concept where instead of using military might, the West has used CSOs to hide their involvement in the regime change agenda.
A number of these CSOs that have been at the forefront of stage-managing events, policing and monitoring political events in the country have been doing so under the direct control of foreign agents.
They feign independence from foreign control and yet in their day-to-day activities, they have been promoting the regime change agenda.
The US, through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – an organisation formed to eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities in the wake of Watergate and Church Committee – has been funding the who-is-who of anti-ZANU PF organisations in Zimbabwe.
NED grantees in Zimbabwe include the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, National Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe Election Support Network and Media Institute of Southern Africa.
In July 2007, Dave Paterson, NED senior director for the Africa Programme testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations sub-Committee on African Affairs 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 other words, the bulk of the opposition movement has been bought and paid for by a foreign intelligence service for the past decade.
Much like the young man in ‘Chop My Money’, Western governments were enthralled by their desire to remove ZANU PF from power and they failed to see that the beautiful lady (opposition movement) that it was using was just spending its money with no hope of a real return.
Much like the beautiful lady, the opposition movement understood its potential and that without it, the West would not be able to achieve regime change, and as such, it milked the West for all it could.
The West was a bottomless pit of money and its turning a blind eye to the lies, infractions of its surrogates in the opposition movement created the monster that we see now. This also explains why, even during the inclusive government, the opposition and civil society fought tooth and nail that no funds be channelled through Government but through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the civil society. While claim was that Government would not be transparent and divert the money, the real motive was that the opposition movement would not be able to get its thieving hands on the money.

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