Civil society seeks audience with Mugabe

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to facilitate a meeting between civil society organisations’ leaders and all Principals to the power sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The organisations sought the meeting in the wake of a blitzkrieg by State agents on Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) across the country in what pro-democracy activists say is aimed at cowing rights defenders and critics of President Robert Mugabe.

“We understand that you (Prime Minister) have tea with the President and meet with other Principals every week,” ZimRights director and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson Okay Machisa said.

“Would it be possible for civil society to join you or better still could you at least facilitate a meeting with us?

“There is a need to meet and air our concerns particularly looking at the situation in which Non-Governmental Organisations have become endangered species,” he said during a meeting with Tsvangirai on Thursday.

Machisa was a few weeks ago locked up for allegedly committing forgery, fraud and intention to publish statements pre-judicial to the State.

The clampdown on NGOs has been heightened ahead of make-or-break polls expected this year.

Zanu PF has traditionally accused civil society of fronting hostile Western interests.

After meeting United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton, Zanu PF chairperson Simon Khaya-Moyo last week issued a blunt warning to NGOs operating in the country.

After listening to complaints from civil society leaders, Tsvangirai promised to facilitate a meeting with Mugabe, Ncube and Mutambara.

“There is no need to throw our hands in the air because we have been victimised or intimidated,” Tsvangirai said.

“There will always be people like that. People who want to frustrate the process that we are working on.
“We have to soldier on. Mugabe has told me he is shocked that the behaviour of some of his officials shows they never wanted the coalition government,” said Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai said political leaders in the country will be meeting to create an internal monitoring mechanism to stem violence and intimidation.

“We want foreign observers but the most important thing is to have internal institutions to monitor the electoral process. We want churches to be part of it as well as civil society. We want you to monitor the situation in Muzarabani and other rural areas.

“The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) will also come in handy because we do not want a repeat of 2008, if Zanu PF wants war they will go it alone, I will not be part of it,” he said.

Asked whether he had a plan to counter electoral theft, Tsvangirai was said: “If I had a plan it would not be discussed here at a public forum, but rega zvipore akabva mukutsva (once beaten twice shy).”

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