HomeTop News Of USAID’s cloak and dagger shenanigans …as Chamisa guns for Timba 

 Of USAID’s cloak and dagger shenanigans …as Chamisa guns for Timba 

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By Elizabeth Sitotombe 

THE US Agency for International Development (USAID)’s perennial attempts to tarnish the country’s image by meeting and funding hostile elements in a bid to destabilise the Government of Zimbabwe are not in tandem with the NGO’s mandate. 

Four US nationals contracted by USAID reportedly sneaked into the country early last month without notifying the relevant authorities and secretly (or so they thought) held unauthorised and furtive meetings which were to inform Washington’s antagonistic foreign policy towards Zimbabwe. 

They were deported, and rightly so, but the West is livid. 

The quartet, who arrived separately, are Norma Kriger, Sarah Logan, Brenda Lee Pearson and Loretta Bass, who work for Navanti Group. 

Kriger claims to be an authority on Africa and an expert on Zimbabwe. 

Based on their profile, Navanti recruits people who have found a purpose in making a positive impact in the world. 

On its website, Navanti claims: “We are linguists, on-the-ground researchers and analysts dedicated to delivering real-time insight into the economic, political and security trends shaping our world.” 

And in this case, their mission was supposedly to carry out a ‘democracy and governance assessment’ to help USAID design its local programmes. 

However, it soon emerged that the real agenda was to seek a more effective method to effect regime change. 

They went on to conduct assessment activities, going against the Geneva Convention which states that foreigners entering a country under the cover of an embassy must notify the host country prior to their arrival. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was not aware of their presence in the country. 

Needless to say, their offence attracts summary deportation — and they were duly given their marching orders on February 17. 

USAID administrator Samantha Power went on to claim they had been harassed, detained and later deported without following diplomatic procedures. 

This begs the question: What then are the bona fide diplomatic channels for individuals who go against the tenets of a sovereign country and an international convention? 

On February 5, the US Embassy requested a meeting between Kriger, Pearson and Government ministers, institutions and Chapter 12 Commissions which include the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and Zimbabwe Gender Commission, among others. 

This was because the team realised they had been sniffed out. The diplomatic note was served to the Government after the fact, but it only had two names, instead of four. The note stated the duo would be accompanied by one Olivia Gumbo from the Navanti Group. 

Kriger and Pearson would meet the former legislator for Harare East constituency, Rusty Markham, at York Lodge. It was during this meeting that Pearson expressed US interest in funding the capacitation of opposition Councillors. Markham vacated his parliamentary seat recently in a show of support for the former CCC leader, Nelson Chamisa, who quit the beleaguered opposition party in a huff in late January. 

On February 16, the ‘immigrants’ travelled to Bulawayo where they held a series of meetings with civic society organisations, among them Accountability Lab Zimbabwe. 

Meanwhile, Logan and Bass — who had entered the country on February 5 — apparently had jetted in for an identical mission. The duo also clandestinely held meetings with anti-government civic society organisations, some senior opposition figures, journalists from the ‘private’ media and Western diplomats. 

On February 8, the pair met Danish Aid official, David Takawira; engaged Swedish Embassy secretary Peeter Kamaan; and the director of the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), Dr Frances Lovemore, over dinner. 

Remember the CSU and the notorious Dr Lovemore! 

Recently, the CSU, under Dr Lovemore, 

was caught on the wrong side of the law for operating without a medicine dispensing licence. 

CSU is an NGO registered as a health clinic that has arrogated itself the task of documenting incidences of political violence and assisting ‘victims of political violence’ by providing medical and rehabilitation services. They have been going around treating and counselling purported ‘victims’ of 2024 by-election violent incidents even though there have been no police reports to that effect. The same CSU, to gain currency, has been tracking some of the people they ‘treated’ in 2008 in the rural areas, inviting them for counselling claiming they were still ‘traumatised’. To make matters worse, it has been booking lodges and providing ‘safe houses’ for them. 

It does not need a private investigator to find out why the duo met Dr Lovemore. 

On February 9, Bass and Logan met with Mike Davis, an official from the Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA). The duo went on to meet the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) director, John Maketo, on February 12. Next on their schedule were meetings with a British Embassy official, Peter Thomas; British Commonwealth and Development Office official Nikolai Hutchinson; Mass Public Opinion Institute director Eldred Masunungure; as well as Labour Economics and Development Research Institute director Godfrey Kanyenze, all on February 13.

On February 14, Valentine’s Day, Bass and Logan connected with Pearson at the US Embassy where they met Larry Socha, the State Department public diplomacy officer. That same evening, Bass and Logan would go on to meet Valery Sviuya, the director of the Legal Resources Foundation. It is obvious that political destabilisation, and not love, was on the agenda. 

The next day, the team met a Heart and Soul TV journalist and later linked up with Kriger for a closed-door meeting with US political chief Nicole Johnson. 

According to George Charamba, Deputy Chief Secretary (Presidential Communications), the quartet’s mission was intensely, and exclusively, political. 

“It sought to interfere with the politics of this country in spite of the fact that Americans are no stakeholders in the politics of Zimbabwe. The same way that Zimbabwe is not a player in the politics of America.” 

USAID was created in 1961 to help the US win the ‘hearts and minds’ (soft power) of citizens in developing countries through civic action, economic aid and humanitarian assistance. But in reality it is known to undertake ‘discrete’ regime change operations. Its destabilising influence around the world sticks out like a sore thumb. Recipients of USAID funds have been known to foment anarchy and violence, inciting mobs and destabilising democratically elected governments. 

Meanwhile, drama seems to dog Chamisa wherever he goes or is it the ‘golden boy’ who has a knack for the dramatics? In an attempt to consolidate power within his nascent Blue Movement, Chamisa continues to steer the opposition in the direction of sheer hopelessness characterised by drama and corruption. 

The acting administrator of the blue party with no name, Jameson Timba, is due for a boot following allegations of corruption, incompetence and his failure to maintain control over the party’s affairs. 

Leading his fall from grace are Joanna Mamombe, Gift ‘Ostallos’ Siziba and Promise Mkwananzi, whose name keeps cropping up for all the wrong reasons. Timba’s fate is as good as sealed. The trio is said to have informed Chamisa that Timba is colluding with provincial co-ordinators, demanding a hefty US$300 from Diasporians seeking confirmation letters to support their asylum applications. 

“We are mobilising so that Timba departs,” Mkwananzi is said to have confided in one Magunje. 

Timba’s presence in the party has been met with undisguised disgruntlement as evidenced by party members’ decision to boycott his meetings. 

According to an insider, Timba called for a meeting with CCC Members of Parliament, among them Clifford Hlatshwayo, Melliwe Phuti, Sessel Zvidzai and Shakespeare Hamauswa, at his home — No. 6 Downing Street, Mt Pleasant. 

Nonetheless, they all declined, citing their lack of a desire to hold a meeting at a private abode. Still, Hlatshwayo nicodemously turned up, only to discover that his colleagues had stuck to their guns. 

Furthermore, on Tuesday, March 5, Hlatshwayo convened an Opposition Legislators Caucus at 10 Beele Road, Belvedere. It did not come as a surprise that of the 67 anticipated attendees, only 10 showed up, a sure sign that the duo of Timba and Hlatshwayo have lost control over the opposition Parliamentarians. 

By the same token, while Siziba is working feverishly to push Timba out, he stands accused of approaching members of the opposition demanding kickbacks from political aspirants eyeing key posts that are yet to be filled in the new blue party with no name. 

Siziba has been dangling his proximity to Chamisa as a passport to securing these ‘lucrative’ positions in exchange for kickbacks ranging between US$500 and US$1 000. 

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