By Moses Chamboko
Despite three decades of independence coupled with deafening rhetoric of sovereignty, we don’t have the capacity to write our own supreme law without the benevolence of donors.
For anybody in Zimbabwe to shut down NGOs on flimsy grounds is most deplorable or at least comical. The decision to ban these agencies that were doing their very best under the most difficult conditions all for the love of humanity, must be rescinded forthwith.
We will briefly discuss constitutional matters later.
Having steadily lost support across the length and breadth of the country which worsened in the last decade, ZANU PF is now in a dangerous mode where it sees everything that is not moulded in its own image as an enemy.
The former revolutionary but now moribund party has reached a tipping point where it can’t trust even its own shadow, especially when elections loom. Banning or suspending Non-Governmental Organisations as widely reported this week should be understood in this context.
The unceremonious closure of 30 NGOs in Masvingo can never be the brainchild of a fairly insignificant man when it comes to the real politics of ZANU PF top leadership unless he received such instructions from above.
Having personally known the governor of Masvingo well before he even became a subscribing member of any ZANU PF cell, Titus Hahlani Maluleke, or “Mr. Rubberstick” (which was his infamous nickname during his days as a lower grade primary school teacher), I refuse to accept that the decision to close these crucial NGOs was his only.
Such retrogressive development is a microcosm of ZANU PF’s grand plan to shut down any organisation perceived to be pro-people ahead of the much talked about elections that will never take place this year unless we are going to have yet another one-man race as we saw in 2008. We hope this will not be the case given that a second GNU is the last thing on any progressive mind.
In a country where unemployment is around 80%, which is quite a conservative percentage given realties on the ground, why would any sane person worsen people’s plight by chasing away traditional and all-weather employers such as NGOs?
How many professionals and non-professionals in the past couple of years have ended up with a reasonably lucrative job courtesy of these NGOs that are now being treated as if they were enemies of the state?
Most parts of Masvingo province are known for perpetual droughts coupled with denuded agricultural lands which aren’t suitable for any meaningful production anymore. Isn’t it a paradox that it is in this same province where NGOs that are synonymous with the next meal or next pain killer such as Care International are being shut down?
Should these organisations remain closed, what will happen to the food stocks that were destined for the starving nations, not talking of hospital drugs that could expire while some people play “chip monkeys” politics with people’s lives?
ZANU PF and its misguided zealots should be reminded that biting the hand that feeds you is self-defeating. Those who will starve or fail to access life-saving drugs because the Good Samaritan has been sent packing will remember who caused their misery when it’s election time. Given this rank madness, does MDC need to campaign in order to win especially in those areas where poor lives have been positively transformed by the NGOs?
Back to the constitution; having skimmed through the 18 leaked draft chapters as widely circulated this week on different forums, many people were left wondering why anybody should be screaming about this draft. In addition to being written in very simple language, the draft seems to resonate with best practice across the globe.
As I’m neither a constitutional expert nor qualified lawyer, I won’t say much on this subject. Nevertheless, people need to understand and appreciate that constitutions are not written to please certain individuals but to satisfy and protect national aspirations, identity and pride. The land mass called Zimbabwe, anchored on its constitution, shall continue to exist long after we are all gone.
Those who can’t see beyond our current crop of leaders and existing political parties must not be allowed anywhere near serious national discussions such as the new constitution. Prolific political turncoat and disgraceful academic, Jonathan Moyo, is certainly one of them.
Moses Chamboko can be reached on email@example.com