‘ZANU-PF determined to further close the democratic space’

The ruling ZANU-PF party is determined to further close any remaining democratic space in the country, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has said.

The coalition is a conglomeration of over 70 civic society organisations (CSOs) focusing on democracy, good governance, and other related factors.

Responding to state media claims that CSOs under the Crisis banner are seeking to destabilise and topple the government, the coalition said the ruling party was trying by all means to shut the democratic space.

This comes at a time when the government is moving toward passing the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill, which is set to restrict operations on CSOs.

“The malicious allegations contained in the state’s propaganda pieces are but a desperate attempt to find a scapegoat for the ZANU PF government’s inability to run the country and its economy,” said the coalition’s spokesperson, Obert Masaraure in a statement issued Wednesday.

“The incumbent ZANU-PF government is evidently in a panic mode as evidence of failure has increasingly become too apparent. These are clearly desperate attempts to scare and intimidate those calling out its failures. They now seem more determined to close any remaining democratic space.”

He said while the coalition is non-partisan it is very political.

“The issues we collectively engage span the political, economic and social spheres – and the constitution of the republic provides for our varied mandates, hence our existence,” said Masaraure.

“We are not and have never been agents of terror. In fact, much of what we see, experience and fight against in Zimbabwe, is the state-sponsored terror that dates back to the 1980s, when an estimated 20 000 civilians lost their lives; many others suffered rape, abductions, displacement, and torture under the ZANU PF government.”

Masaraure said the operations of their CSOs members were legal and legitimate.

“ZANU-PF government often sends their state security agents, especially from the police internal security intelligence, informers and serving agents of the Central Intelligence Organisation to attend civil society activities, and we always accommodate them,” he said.

“This is because we have nothing to hide. It is evident that a small clique in the ZANU-PF government wants to turn this country into a one-party state, in their mistaken belief of turning Zimbabwe into a mini communist Kingdom without elections. This small clique, which is averse to history, has slowly derailed the country from the post-independence dream of a Zimbabwe which affords all its citizens a decent life, of equal opportunity and access to basic goods and services. This quest by the small clique in ZANU PF flies in the face of the popular values for which we fought during the protracted liberation war.”

He challenged the powers-that-be to respect the country’s constitution.

“We encourage President Mnangagwa and his government to abide by the tenets and spirit of our national constitution,” said Masaraure.

“The rule of law and constitutionalism must be the common denominator in terms of how our country is governed. Zimbabwe is for all irrespective of political party, ethnicity, gender or race.”

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