By Kundai Marunya

NEWS that the US government has stopped funding the activities of local NGOs and civil society organisations with immediate effect could point to a major climbdown in Washington’s relations towards Zimbabwe.

The most affected by the directive are CSOs engaged in media, human rights and democracy advocacy.

Among those whose funding has reportedly been withdrawn are the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe), the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS).

The majority of the affected CSOs are funded by the US through its Foreign Affairs Department to advance its interests, which in Zimbabwe include lobbying for regime change and an orchestrated onslaught on foreign firms whose home countries enjoy cordial relations with Zimbabwe, notably Russia and China.

A no-nonsense leadership loyal to the ideals of the liberation struggle has been successfully blunting latter-day neo-colonial efforts to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.

For its part, the US has, for the past 23 years, sabotaged Zimbabwe’s economy through illegal sanctions imposed on baseless accusations of human rights abuse.

Through its local proxies in the form of NGOs, CSOs, political activists and so-called human rights advocates, the US has tried but dismally failed to derail Zimbabwe from its upward economic trajectory.

In the absence of Uncle Sam and his British and European allies, Zimbabwe’s GDP continues to grow, with estimates putting it at US$38 billion, up from US$27,37 billion in 2022 (World Economics).

Zimbabwe has seen positive growth in the agriculture and mining sectors thanks to its strategic partnerships with economic powerhouses and all-weather friends — China and Russia (dating back to the liberation struggle) — and, of course, new synergies with friendly countries like Belarus.

President Mnangagwa commissions a consignment of tractors from Belarus in the company of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko

The discovery of strategic mineral deposits such as lithium (an important mineral in green energy), oil and gas which are crucial in industrial development and exploitation of vast gold deposits critical in economic stability, positions Zimbabwe as an important ally, to the ‘neutrals’.

Economic sabotage to pave way for a Western-controlled opposition government has clearly failed, thus the recent indications of foreign policy climb-down — from ‘relaxing’ the sanctions regime in March to throwing their local puppets under the bus for failing to unseat a democratically elected ZANU PF Government.

“The US maybe interested in certain resources which Zimbabwe has in abundance and they know that if they continue to stick to a hardline stance, they will not have access to them. Other countries, like China, will get them instead, so it might be a tactical manoevre,” observed political analyst Dr Wellington Gadzikwa(pictured). 

“They may relax some sanctions because they wish to obtain something, or they have since realised that these sanctions are no longer serving any useful purpose, so they wouldn’t like to hold on to something that is not working. 

“They may have also belatedly come to terms with the fact that they do not have an option but to work with the incumbent Government. I think they have finally realised that trying to fight a liberation movement-backed Government is a waste of time because they have been doing it for over 20 years without success.”

The Second Republic has been on an engagement and re-engagement drive since its inception, bolstered by the twin mantras, ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ and ‘A friend to all and an enemy to none’. This approach has helped President Emmerson Mnangagwa to woo former foes who have since realised they are lagging behind in what would eventually turn out to be mutually beneficial investments.

The British have already been making inroads in claiming a piece of the pie, the same as their European allies.

Now the Americans are slowly awakening from their deep slumber! And the evidence is there for all to see! 

 CSOs and NGOs have, for a long time, been cash cows for those intent on milking the West under the cover of advocating for democracy, human rights and press freedom, among other similar dubious causes.

And the irony of it all is that these CSOs spend the lion’s share of their budgets on hefty salaries, SUVs, per diems and workshops in five-star facilities at the expense of their stated programmes.

Surely, does it make sense for a CSO established to ‘fight for democracy’ to buy Toyota Landcruisers for its top executives, whose salaries average a whopping US$8 000 per month, much more than what the Zimbabwe Government spends on its Cabinet ministers, who are actually working around the clock to transform the country’s fortunes!

It is a public secret that donor funds are being looted to fund the lavish lifestyles of ‘grant-prenuers’. A case in point was the recent scandal involving the alleged misappropriation of US$6 million from the EU to fund a trauma centre for female victims of political violence during the 2023 elections.

There was no record of the so-called ‘victims of  political violence’, or how the money was spent, leaving the CSO bosses with no option but to resign from their respective organisations.

“Two prominent Zimbabwean women’s rights activists, Sally Dura-Ncube and Jestina Mukoko, have resigned from their respective organisations amid allegations of misappropriation of funds” reported a local online publication, Celebrity News.

“According to a credible source in the civil society organisations (CSOs) fraternity, Dura-Ncube, the national co-ordinator of the Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoz), and Mukoko, the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), received funds respectively from the European Union (EU) to support alleged survivors of political violence during the election period.”

According to the old adage, ‘one swallow does not make a summer’. Sally Dura-Ncube and Jestina Mukoko may have resigned, but there are thousands of other ‘grant-preneurs’ out there, waiting for their share of Uncle Sam’s dirty lucre. And as long as there are willing pawns, the proverbial ’30 pieces of silver’ will continue to find their way into the local CSO coffers and thence into the bottomless pockets of the their founders.

Warns Dr Gadzikwa: “The withdrawal of funds in CSOs could signal a new approach which is informed by their (US) foreign policy. Maybe they are trying a new strategy which we will see in due course. 

“Remember all this generous funding they were giving was influenced by their foreign policy.

“We are yet to find out what their next move is going to be, but it would be very naïve to think that they are content with the status quo.

“The US is opposed to our land reform and empowerment programmes…, so whatever they are planning, in whichever they are programming, they always want to establish a regime that they can manipulate, so we wouldn’t say that they have dropped the regime change agenda. They are maybe changing tactics.”

Whatever the new strategy maybe, Zimbabwe remains committed to deal with foreign governments on equal terms rather that the slave and master relationship desired by the West.

“Despite the US’ attempts to portray Zimbabwe as resistant to reforms and international re-engagement, the country remains committed to genuine partnerships on equal terms,” said Dereck Goto, another political analyst, adding: 

“Zimbabwe will not be bullied into submission by foreign powers seeking to impose their will on its internal affairs.”


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