Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
Civic society organisations that have been hostile to Zanu-PF over the years say they are now ready to work with Government for the good of the country. The Southern Africa Civil Society Forum, that draws its membership from all the Sadc countries, revealed the new thrust in Harare this week at a meeting that was also attended by Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa.
The meeting was held ahead of the 34th Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government to be held in Victoria Falls from August 17 to 18, where President Mugabe will assume chairmanship of the regional bloc.
Sadc Council of NGOs regional economic integration manager Mr Rangarirai Machemedze yesterday said confrontation between Government and the civic society was not good of the country.
“We have to close ranks and work together as a collective unit for the good of the country,” said Mr Machemedze.
He said the civic society could play a major role in complementing Government in developing the country.
Mr Machemedze said the forum came up with resolutions that would be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for onward submission to the Victoria Falls Sadc Summit.
During the inclusive Government era, pro-MDC-T civic society organisations always wanted to gatecrash at Sadc summits to push the opposition party’s agenda against Zanu-PF.
European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Aldo Dell’Arricia recently chided the civil society leaders and opposition politicians for their adversarial approach to Government at a forum organised by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition where he rebuked the NGOs for “living in the past”.
“The civil society has a role to play but I have the impression that you are a little bit anchored to the past where instead of seeing NGOs one perceives AGOs, Anti-Government Organisations. And if you start catching the flair of the time, the trend, there is an opening to be worked upon,’’ Mr Dell’Arricia said.
Deputy Minister Mutsvangwa said it was gratifying that the civic society had reached their “Damascene moment”.
“For a long time. the civic society has been sponsored by anti-Government people, but now after the July 31 (2013) elections, they are now abandoning the position of being anti-Government,” he said.
“They say they are now ready to work with Government because they are abandoning the donor-driven agenda. They are now desperate for legitimacy by associating with Government. It is a major shift. They are saying they are now keen to meet the President with their regional organisations.”
The forum was composed of members of the Fellowship of Christian Council in Southern Africa, Sadc Council of NGOs and the Southern Africa Trade Union Co-ordination Council.