By John Sigauke
A senior official working for the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) has bared details of how the civic society organisations had planned to stage a demonstration on the sidelines of the 39th SADC summit recently held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that a delegation of 40 activists left for Tanzania to lobby against the ascendancy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the chairmanship of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation. Among the delegates, the official said, were students from the University of Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University, Catholic University, National University of Science and Technology and Harare Polytechnic College.
He said their intention was to discredit President Mnangagwa on accusations of violating human rights, with a view to attracting international censure. He said the move was expected to put Zimbabwe on the SADC agenda.
The source revealed that ZIMCODD was funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Norwegian Church Aid, Southern African Trust (SAT), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and Oxfarm Southern Africa.
He confirmed media reports that his organisation’s leadership was quizzed by the Tanzanian security on their intention. He said it was after they were sternly warned that they chickened out to proceed with their demonstrations.
He revealed that his organisation works with like-minded organisations in SADC region under the auspices of the Southern African People’s Network (SAPSN). He said SAPSN usually holds side-line workshops during SADC summits.
“On this particular summit, SAPSN held a workshop on the sidelines of the SADC summit themed: Rebuilding People’s movement with Southern Africa’s Climate, Political, Social and Economic Emergencies towards radical, democratic, alternative and just transition.
“The workshop centred on six thematic areas namely democracy, governance, human rights, youths and women empowerment, economic justice, climate change,” said the source.
He said among the workshop presenters were officials from Advancing Rights in Southern Africa (ARSA) as well as Human Rights Watch Action for Southern Africa (HRWASA) , resource persons such as Tilda Mawarire, Tamuka Chirima and Dewa Mavhinga among others. He added that Norton Independent legislator, Temba Mliswa was also part of the panellists.
This is not the first time that ZIMCODD sent activists to SADC to embarrass government and put the name of the country into disrepute. In 2008, they, in cahoots with CSOs such as Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and National Constitutional Assembly sent activists to the SADC summit in Lusaka, Zambia on a similar mission.
Despite all the machinations to scuttle the ascendancy of President Mnangagwa, SADC went on to bestow the honour upon him. The regional body went further to set 25 October as an anti-sanction day in solidarity with Zimbabwe and the Mnangagwa administration.