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Civil society uses Zanu (PF) tactics

By Tawanda Majoni

There has been intense animosity between the Zanu (PF) government and local civil society for close to two decades.

Tawanda Majoni
Tawanda Majoni

The party accuses civil society of regime change intentions while the latter has been insisting that successive governments since the mid-1990s are guilty of gross human rights abuses, bad governance and crass disrespect for the rule of law – among a range of flaws typical of many African governments. There are merits and demerits in both camp’s allegations, but this is not my focus for now.

For some time, I have been observing dynamics in both Zanu (PF) and civil society and I have noticed that the two show many similarities. They have been engaged in bitter wars all along and have never converged – but this must not be a source of confusion. Those who are old enough to remember, or who have read our history will remember that in long-ago societies, blood brothers would be sworn enemies and never meet, mostly because of the struggle for power.

Their divergence was because they viewed the world through different lenses. This must be the same with the antagonism between the ruling party and CSOs. I am not sure, though, who their parents are.

Of course, I will not seek to paint all CSOs with the same brush. But the current boardroom crisis at Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) presents a perfect platform for comparison between the ruling party and civil society. CSO leaders seem to have borrowed just too much from Zanu (PF) over the years.

The only difference is that one side has guns, teargas and jails while the other does not. There is a growing tendency within civil society to use the strongman tactics that we have all along associated with Zanu (PF). Some CSO leaders have now resorted to sending in thugs to terrorise their opponents.

This is what happened when a breakaway faction of the CiZC leadership convened a meeting disguised as an AGM at a local lodge recently. The rival faction descended on the venue and disrupted the meeting. We are witnessing the same trend in the ruling party as the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions fight for political turf.

Youths are being sent to disrupt meetings and frustrate rivals. The factional disposition does not end there. Rival camps in civil society are sponsoring mainly youths to pass votes of no confidence in their foes. I learnt recently that one faction in the CSO leadership hired a band of youths and accommodated it in a four star hotel, spoiling the youngsters with beer drawn from a free bar.

Thousands of dollars were expended in that venture, so I heard. The youths subsequently passed a vote of no confidence in their leader. Now, who does not know that a Zanu (PF) faction has in a space of less than a month passed votes of no confidence in nine out of 10 provincial chairpersons, feting their foot soldiers with small money and beer?

Civil society has perfected the Zanu (PF) culture of nepotism and corruption. I hear that executive directors are buying houses and accumulating fleets of cars by dipping into the coffers built for them by hapless donors. At the same time, staff members wallow in dignified poverty sanitised by regular per diems. The ultimate beneficiaries, the communities, are being used as the basis for looting.

This is what we have always associated with Zanu (PF) and its members who dip into every jar at the slightest opportunity. Both camps have their constituencies on the lowest rung of their priorities ladder.

Just as in Zanu (PF), CSO directors have that pervasive handiende propensity. They want to be at the helm for as far as it takes. Ironically, they are the ones who have been shouting the loudest about Mugabe staying in power for too long. The Zimbabwean

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