By Jeffrey Muvundusi
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent meeting with a vocal civic society grouping has received with mixed reactions.
Mnangagwa surprisingly met with Matabeleland Collective at State House in Bulawayo where the civic organisation presented him with a number of issues.
Social media has been abrasive against the team led by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) director Jenni Williams that met Mnangagwa at State House.
Some have questioned the invitation criteria used while others have raised red flag over the leadership of the civic society grouping which they claim might have been greased to take a softer stance against Mnangagwa who some in the region view as being part of perpetrators of the Gukurahundi massacres.
To make matter worse, soon after meeting Mnangagwa, Williams took to Twitter to share her excitement for her milestone achievement to finally share the high table with the country’s first citizen.
“At first I thought that was PR & politicking but when I saw him taking notes as we deliberated; that was incredible. When he said he was a listening President I felt he meant it,” she posted.
This was, however, received by mixed feelings with many saying she was clearly sounding like she has been “captured” by the State.
Prominent Bulawayo-based activist, Josphat Mzaca Ngulube also posted on his Facebook wall saying: “This Matabeleland collective sounds nonsensical, whose purpose is it serving besides being used as a gimmick to cleanse ED in Mat.”
Zapu spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa also added to the criticism saying: “To those who met Scarfman at Bulawayo State House…who were you representing?”
MRP spokesperson Mbonisi Gumbo however, defended Matabeleland Collective’s meeting with Mnangagwa.
“Some of us have known about the existence of Matabeleland Collective for quite some time now. We are aware that the initiative is well intended.
“It must be understood that this initiative was not created to meet Mnangagwa but to defend the Mthwakazi space the same way we do in politics.
“It is worth noting that everything that was presented to Mnangagwa by the Matabeleland Collective is exactly what we as Matabeleland politicians have been raising,” Gumbo posted.
Matabeleland Collective spokesperson Dumisani Nkomo said the grouping was non-partisan.
“We are not partisan we are not an appendage of any political party. Whenever we have issues we address them to the relevant people, that’s how advocacy works in any part of the world.
“For instance, the issue of Gukurahundi, we invited Mnangagwa and we spoke clearly about, just like we did on devolution and other issues because we feel it’s him who should address those issues. And trust me we are going to hold the government accountable on those issues,” Nkomo told Daily News.
The meeting was a first for both parties as this never happened during former president Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign.
While at State House, the civic society representatives managed to touch on such crucial issues as the decriminalisation of Gukurahundi, reburials, access to documentation, devolution and harmonisation of laws among others, to which the president positively promised to address. DailyNews