NGO Groups Demand Inclusive Approach to ‘National Crisis’
MUTARE– A civic society umbrella body calls for a holistic and inclusive approach to end a protracted national crisis, dealt intolerantly by government, through vilification of dissenting voices, instead of an accommodative and democratic approach.
In a press statement the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) says it is concerned over prevailing unrest and envisions a government sanctioned platform that provides citizens and communities opportunities to contribute to ending the current economic, social, governance and environmental challenges.
NANGO is the officially recognized coordinating body of NGOs operating in Zimbabwe and is mandated by its membership to coordinate the activities of NGOs, represent the NGO sector and strengthen the voice of NGOs in Zimbabwe.
NANGO said the crisis is “characterized by continued intolerance, polarization, corruption, disregard for the rule of law, contravention of the constitution and marginalisation of vulnerable groups and communities, among other factors.”
It castigated government’s iron fist approach to address grievances of the general citizenry, including ‘vilification of dissenting voices that are calling for the promotion of lawfulness, tranquility, peace, equity and fairness, inclusive and sustainable development, respect for human rights and constitutionalism.’
NANGO said government has betrayed its hostilities towards citizens, reflected in its disproportionate response characterized by ‘hate speech, derogatory language and labelling of groups and tribes.’
“We urge the government to lend an ear to alternative voices all which hope and yearn for a better and prosperous Zimbabwe where everyone’s dreams and aspirations are possible.
“The refuting of alternative voices and views demonstrated by the responses to the call by various concerned stakeholders and citizens does not project a nation that is accommodative and democratic, this undermines efforts to move towards sustainable peace and development.
“We believe that the national crisis needs an all-inclusive and holistic approach in addressing the myriad of challenges that bedevil the country more so, when poverty and hunger are on the rise and the COVID-19 pandemic is amplifying public finance management, social service delivery and governance issues,” read part of the statement.
On the South African Envoy dispatched by President Cyril Ramaphosa, NANGO said government missed an opportunity for an inclusive dialogue with stakeholders, both state and no state actors and called for ‘government to create pathways of inclusion, participation and involvement of multiple stakeholders in solving the Zimbabwean crisis.’
“NANGO, like many other institutions was hopeful that the visit from the South African envoy was going to yield the much needed mediation between the government and its people.
“We are taken aback, that the envoy left without consulting non-state actors and other concerned stakeholders. However, we remain hopeful that the envoy will return with a refined, people centered and inclusive strategy,” said NANGO.
On the economic challenges bedeviling the country NANGO said anticipated negative economic growth, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, was now an endemic national problem.
NANGO also tore into the conduct of the judiciary, which it said has failed to induce public confidence in its recent behavior, described by critics as impartial and a tool to suppress voices of dissent.
“We note that the deteriorating economic environment characterized by projected negative growth rate of 5% coupled with galloping inflation rate amid reduced incomes has further deepened poverty and inequality indicators for the majority.
“Low incomes for the formally employed in both public and private sector have left most households with inadequate disposable income to purchase basic commodities. The informal sector, which employs the majority of people, has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures.
“NANGO notes with concern the level of autonomy of the Judiciary, following the recent events that have been a reflection of how the Zimbabwean justice system has failed to induce confidence on its independence. Citizens and communities feel that the Judiciary Institutions have been used as an arm to further repress and deny citizens their constitutionally guaranteed rights,” said NANGO.
It called for constitutionalism and rule of law to be applied and for government to invoke Commissions mandated constitutionally to deal with such a crisis.
NANGO said the government must promote transparency and accountability as a way of combating corruption and promoting efficient use of public resources as well as disbursing the RTGS$18 billion Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package.
“We emphasize the need for all stakeholders to work together towards the dream of the ‘Zimbabwe We Want’, to this end we urge, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to urgently carry out its mandate and investigate all cases of human rights violations
“The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to take up its constitutional mandate and reign in state and non -state actors who continue to fan violence, conflict, disharmony and tribalism
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police to execute its mandate of maintaining peace and security and also ensure that perpetrators are brought to book and the Ministry of Home Affairs to reign in on police officers and ensure they desist from using brute force on citizens.
“The Zimbabwe National Army, which has been accused of using disproportionate force on civilians, to work towards its mission of defending the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests of Zimbabwe and contributing to international peace and stability,” said NANGO in its wide ranging recommendations.