Role of NGOs in regime change agenda

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By Tafadzwa Masango

Civil society organisations that have been on NED’s payroll include ZESN, MISA, ZLHR and CiZC.

THE funding of ‘democratisation’, in Zimbabwe, to civil society and NGOS by Western governments is often revealing in annual reports and sessions held to justify expenditure of disbursed funds. 

Many of these civil society groups and NGOs are mere appendages of the opposition.

A 2003 US Institute for Peace report titled, ‘Zimbabwe and the Prospects for a Non-Violent Political Change’ reads in part: “In the late 1990s, civic coalitions in Zimbabwe began to emerge, build consensus and gain collective strength around the need for non-violent political change…. This 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.”

The US Institute for Peace describes itself as “…a non-partisan, national institute, founded by Congress and dedicated to the proposition that a world without violent conflict is possible, practical and essential for US and global security. 

In conflict zones abroad, the Institute works with local partners to prevent or halt bloodshed. 

To reduce future crises and the need for costly interventions, USIP works with governments and civil societies to help their countries solve their own problems peacefully. 

It provides expertise, training, analysis, and support to those who are working to build peace.”

The importance of USIP in the use of NGOs and civic society in the regime change agenda should not be missed. 

The infamous Chester Crocker, an acclaimed proponent of the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe, is not only a board member of USIP, but was its chairman between 1992 and 2004. 

USIP gave birth to the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, which Crocker was a founder patron and comprised some of the most senior Western politicians who also owned mining and other business interests in Zimbabwe and SA at that time. 

The passion that Crocker has against ZANU PF Government in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with alleged human rights or democracy, but capitalist greed, with a huge dose of racism that believes indigenous Africans should not be ‘too woke’ to demand control of their resources, but should instead be content with working for white corporations. 

In one of his numerous books, Crocker seeks to justify US ‘constructive engagement’ with apartheid SA by claiming that it brought peace in a ‘rough neighbourhood’. 

The rough neighborhood in this case is a southern Africa where liberation movements were fighting for their countries’ independence. In Mozambique, Crocker supported RENAMO, arguing the US saved Mozambique from communists. 

Mick Collins observed: “Zimbabwe’s Government has become a pariah regime not because it has betrayed its people, not because of its violations of democratic norms or indulgence in corruption, but because it belied the hopes and expectations of imperialism. Unlike many of the regimes in Africa and elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Government, instead of serving the interests of the privileged sections of the population at home and imperialism abroad, has chosen the much more honourable and therefore much more difficult path of serving the vast masses of the Zimbabwean people and rendering selfless fraternal assistance to sister African countries under attack from imperialism.” 

Another big donor to the Zimbabwe civic society and NGO sector is National Endowment for Democracy (NED). 

Much like the Movement for Democratic Change, the Democracy in NED is a façade. 

A NED Africa Programme senior director, Dave Petersen, claims that this US funded ‘NGO’ has been “…successful in building a strong and vital programme of support to civil society, including the media, political parties and trade unions.” 

Civil society organisations that have been, and are, on NED’s payroll include, ZESN, MISA, ZLHR and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition. 

What one should note in all this is that there is really no difference between the opposition MDC and these civic society organisations. 

Modern purveyors of imperialism use euphemisms of ‘democracy and human rights’ to promote it. 

Democracy and human rights have become instruments of state terror used to subjugate resource-rich developing countries by the west, especially by the US. 

The devastation and damage visited on the people of Zimbabwe is immeasurable over the past two decades. 

The heartlessness of state terrorism and its calculated pervasiveness is inhuman, destructive and barbaric as evidenced in the deterioration of quality of life among Zimbabweans as a result of the illegal sanctions. 

Violence as a weapon of regime change

According to Stephen Gowans, the US has developed a standard plan for colour revolutions which contains seven stages. 

Stage 6 says that if election results are not in favour of the opposition, then the media, civil society, NGOs and other appendages of the opposition must join hands with that party to denounce the vote as fraudulent and encourage people to take the battle to the streets. 

This is the script that has been playing out in Zimbabwe; from Tendai Biti and Morgen Komichi claiming that the results announced by ZEC were fake and declaring their candidate the winner, to the calls from political activists and civic society for citizens to take to the streets in order to bring attention to the so-called ‘legitimacy crisis’ in Zimbabwe. This is a well-choreographed performance that is intended to foment violence on the country’s streets, provoke the state apparatus to respond, and thus become a self-fulfilling prophecy of the regime change pundits of a Zimbabwe in chaos. 

The incitement of violent protests by opposition figures and their civic society appendages is big business that spreads donor funds all around the NGO sector. 

Doctors, lawyers, researchers, the media and key opposition figures are among those who stand to gain when there is blood on the streets. Their services are instrumental in ‘informing’ the world of the “…grave situation in Zimbabwe.” 

Presently, some are calling for a fresh round of protests against Government. 

For them, the fact that Zimbabweans lost lives, incomes, property, and peace of mind is inconsequential, as they see massive payoffs in forex. 

They forget the foot soldiers they sent onto the streets, who end up in jail or receive packets of mealie meal and bottles of cooking oil for their troubles while those who direct operations from the comforts of their offices reap the rewards that include mansions and other high value properties.

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