By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
26 March 2014
Zimbabwean civil society has diminished due to a combination of factors including a brain drain, reduction in funding and political manipulation and inertia, a prominent political researcher has said.
Charles Mangongera was speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Cutting Edge programme. This followed a special seminar organized by the University of KwaZulu Natal to discuss the role of civil society in the post Government of National Unity era.
Mangongera said civil society has over the years lost most of its best people to international organizations, something which has led to a leadership vacuum. He singled out Transparency International director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, and global director of programmes at the Open Society, Tawanda Mutasah.
According to Mangongera, the situation has been made worse by infiltration and manipulation of civic groups by the state, political parties and corrupt individuals. As a result civil society was no longer as coordinated and not vibrant enough to spearhead change in the country.
Mangongera said the opposition as a whole has ‘donated’ its role to ZANU PF and the party is using that to renew itself. This is apparent in the so-called anti-corruption crusade where the state media appears to be spearheading the crusade ahead of the opposition.
He said: ‘ZANU PF has created an opposition within itself because they can see that the opposition is in sixes and sevens. So they are trying to capture the national mood and pretend to be spearheading the fight against corruption by exposing some of their own people’s corruption.’
Mangongera’s comments come on the backdrop of the revelations in the state media of massive corruption in parastatals.
A fortnight ago, former finance minister and MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti decried the lack of ‘message’ from the opposition. Biti, who was addressing a seminar organized by the Southern African Political Economy Series Trust, said the opposition has ‘failed’ to capture the national mood. He said new civic leaders, of the calibre of the former Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, were needed.