Persecuting CSOs can only serve to further alienate Zim from International Community

RECENT events have proved that if anything, promises of a new dispensation in Zimbabwe remain a pipe dream as the government continues to work flat out to shrink the democratic space in Zimbabwe especially through criminalisation of civic society work and clampdown on dissent.


It has to be noted that the Mnangagwa administration unleashed the army against citizens protesting against electoral theft in August 2018 and about 7 civilians were shot and in January 2019, about 12 civilians were shot again while protesting against fuel price hikes.

Following this, several civic society and opposition activists went into hiding as Mnangagwa unleashed state security agents and the army on them.

On October 22, 2020 President Mnangagwa while delivering a State of the Nation Address (SONA) threatened to shut down Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) critical to the government . He added that the Third Session of the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe will seek to tighten operations of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) through the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

In this brief, CiZC highlights how the Mnangagwa administration, since assuming power through a military coup in November 2017, has been working to  silence dissenting voices and further shrink the democratic space.


On October 27, 2020, the government of Zimbabwe announced that amendments to the Criminal Law Act would seek to criminalize ‘unauthorised communication’ with. foreign governments as well as protests during international events.

The amendments will also see victims of torture and abductions being challenged to provide evidence to prove that they were indeed abducted failure of which they will  face a jail term.

This is a well orchestrated plan to clampdown on civil liberties as well as to try to criminalize civic society work while at the same time criminalising efforts by concerned Zimbabweans to seek external mediation in the country’s multi-faceted crisis.


The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition takes great exception to the Patriotic Bill which seeks to criminalise anyone who speaks negatively about the country. The Patriotic Bill is in essence, a plot to silence dissenting voices while criminalising calls for external mediation in the Zimbabwean crisis.


In July 2020, Mnangagwa, while addressing a Zanu PF Politburo meeting  threatened to deregister CSOs ‘meddling in the country’s politics’. This was yet another attempt to intimidate CSOs that have largely been instrumental in exposing human rights violations and other heinous acts by the government.


Following the January 2019 protests over fuel hikes President Mnangagwa in February 2019 threatened to clamp down on lawyers and doctors whom he accused of offering legal and medical support to protesters.


In March 2020, Mnangagwa threatened a clampdown on people with ‘cockroaches in their homes’. The phrase was used in apparent reference to opposition supporters.


The President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) received numerous threats from alleged state security agents after he rallied workers to protest against the country’s economic crisis. Mutasa has also been arrested on numerous occasions.

Teacher Unions’ leaders in Zimbabwe have also been targets of arbitrary arrests, troture and abductions.

In July 2020, State security agents raided the residence of Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) President, Obert Masaraure and abducted his wife whom they threatened with death for failing to reveal Masaraure’s whereabouts. Masaraure himself has been abducted and tortured on several occasions.


In May 2018, Zanu PF bigwig, Josiah Hungwe revealed that Mnangagwa was a soldier who was ready to shoot for power and events that unfolded later during the August (2018) and January (2019) army shootings served as clear testimony to Hungwe’s utterances.

CiZC Position on attempts to criminalise CSOs work and shrink the democratic space;

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson, Marvelous Khumalo highlighted that Zanu PF was merely seeking to close the democratic space while pushing their political interests through draconian legislation.

“It is sad that the government of Zimbabwe continues to abuse the constitution by promulgating laws that are aimed at restricting the work of NGOs. It is unfortunate that these Acts they are trying to come up with are not in tandem with the constitution.

What they seek to achieve is to curtail human freedoms and close the democractic space so that people in the country will not be able to share their experiences with the global village so that Zimbabweans can get regional and international solidarity

What we see is a deliberate attempt by Zanu PF to target a number of progressive NGOs and this is very bad. As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we condemn such acts of abusing the constitution,” said Khumalo.

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