'Agents invade NGOs'

HARARE - Civil society in Zimbabwe is under threat of infiltration by State security agents and has no immediate solution because of deep divisions and a lack of leadership, according to a recent report.

A report by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) sensationally claims that some civil society leaders sit on too many boards and are often overwhelmed by work, leaving them with no time to find solutions to the escalating problems.

“Board leadership incest has certainly become a worse problem since a few leaders sit on the boards of directors for numerous civil society organisations,” the report says. “This compromises information security and increases risk and exposure once that one leader, who runs several organisations, is targeted by the State.”

While the State, through the police, is pushing an onslaught against NGOs, civic society leaders “remain in comfort zones, not daring to rock the boat,” the report says.

“Within the general public there is indeed a perception that NGOs equate to a life of luxury, and not sacrifice, volunteerism and national duty, there is need for civil society leaders to urgently address such perceptions and background realities that feed such perceptions.”

Accused by Zanu PF of championing regime change, NGOs in the country have been failing to mass mobilise “due to paranoia and poor planning given an almost glorified sense of fear and awe of State agents that has left Zimbabwe as possibly one of the most paranoid societies.”

“Fear of State agents and infiltration may also be as a result of poor leadership and reluctance to sacrifice,” further notes the damning report.

Entitled, “Confronting Security Risks For Zimbabwe Civil Society Ahead of Elections” the report says there is need for all stakeholders to convene an urgent meeting to address the threats. - Xolisani Ncube

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