Will civil society face retribution?

The work of civil society organisations is top priority when President Robert Mugabe is sworn in as the leader of Zimbabwe, according to Zanu (PF) Spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo. In an interview with The Zimbabwean, Gumbo accused CSOs of having a regime change agenda, adding that his party would look into the issue with the ‘seriousness that the issue deserves’. “The issue of CSOs is serious. Once the president is sworn in, and after he appoints cabinet ministers, we are g

Rugare Gumbo
Rugare Gumbo

In the period leading up to the elections, the Zimbabwe Republic Police intensified its crackdown on human rights defenders and activists working with CSOs. The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, Counselling Services Unit and ZimRights offices are examples of CSOs that were searched and had their property confiscated ‘for investigation’ purposes.

Activists such as ZimRights Director, Okay Machisa, were arrested and prosecuted.

Analysts described the onslaught as a tactic to intimidate and harass the activists aimed at ‘closing the public and political space ahead of elections’.

Gumbo accused the majority of CSOs of working towards regime change. A spokesperson from a CSO working with youths acknowledged that the future of CSOs was bleak. “Zanu (PF) views all CSOs as advocating for change, although this is not true,” he said. “Anything to do with human rights is viewed by the party as being pro- MDC, so the onus is on what CSOs are going to do instead of what they are not going to do.”

Last week, Chinamasa accused CSOs of being briefcase organisations that received money from the west to promote regime change.

“NGOs received funding to the tune of $2,6 billion, which if they were asked to account for, they cannot,” he said.

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