‘Do you eat democracy and human rights’ – Mutsvangwa blasts NGOs
Zanu PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa tongue-lashed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) advocating for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe accusing them of supporting the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
Government recently gazetted the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) amendment bill through which seeks to clampdown on civil society organisations especially those that push for human rights.
Addressing journalists at the Zanu PF party headquarters in Harare on Monday, Mutsvangwa castigated Nelson Chamisa’s CCC party for lacking structures in rural areas. He claimed that NGOs were going to rural areas to fill the gaps left by the “failing opposition” on pretext that they would be pushing for human rights.
Mutsvangwa downplayed NGOs’ fight for democracy in Zimbabwe saying “as if human rights are eaten. Democracy democracy as if democracy is eaten.”
“In Zimbabwe you will not spend two days in a rural area if they don’t know who you are. They report you to the CIO, our intelligence system. People in rural areas are structured. MDC does not have those structures because it is a party of chancers. CCC does not have organisational capacity like Zanu-PF,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Now because we have exposed them that they have no organizational capacity, NGOs now want to move in as the substitute for the opposition parties. Undercover of all sorts of things they want to substitute a failing MDC.
“If they are so good, why can’t there be NGOs to make sure that Harare has water, no potholes and garbage is collected in Harare.
“Everything which shows responsibility, NGOs don’t want but they sell this mirage human rights human rights as if human rights are eaten. Democracy democracy as if democracy is eaten. Democracy is what we fought for and we can’t be told by NGOs.
“They can not be substitute for an incompetent Chamisa. That regulation coming to Parliament regulating their activities, we are going to support it.”
Opposition activist Pride Mkono castigated Mutsvangwa for undermining human rights. He said the sentiments by the war veterans leader showed he was speaking from a position of privilege.
“Democracy has everything to do with food on the table. Democracy speaks to representation of people. So, you can not forgo democracy when you’re talking about people’s interests on the table.
“So, he has been used to living an elite lifestyle on the ivory tower of Zanu PF headquarters, therefore he cannot reflect and genuinely speak the voice of the suffering people whose children are not going to school, whose hospitals are not functional.
“So I think he is just speaking from a point of privilege. There is nothing to take home there. He is waffling,” Mkono said.
The youthful politician, however, rebuked the CCC party for lacking structures in the rural areas.
“In respect to opposition not having structures in rural areas. I think it has been an ongoing concern for the opposition that it has to build strong structures particularly in areas like Mashonaland, part of Midlands, Matabeleland North.
“It has very big threats there which makes it difficult for the opposition even to get a candidate. If you can’t get a candidate, then it means you have no structure. So I think there is a point there that the opposition must take note of,” he added.
Meanwhile Mutsvangwa said his party was going to support the PVO amendment bill to make sure NGOs are governed by the State.
Once the bill passes, NGOs and Trusts will be supposed to disclose funds to the government. The NGOs will also be required to register again under different conditions.
UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom and peaceful assembly and of association Clement Nyaletsossi Voule last year said the bill will gravely affect the civic space.
“Zimbabwe together with colleagues I am deeply concerned over the PVO Amendment bill that could gravely impact civic space.
“I urge the government to ensure that counter-terrorism laws provide safeguards to protect the rights to association and review the amendments to comply with international standards,” Voule said. Nehanda Radio