Lawson Mabhena, Harare Bureau
A group of shady organisations from Zimbabwe with links to the opposition MDC-Alliance has in recent months been hard at work laying groundwork for civil unrest set to be unleashed next month, according to our Harare Bureau.
Foreign organisations are coordinating workshops and training in Zimbabwe, the region and overseas to effect regime change in the country.
Also in the mix are individuals that security services in Zimbabwe have been watching.
According to information at hand, the organisations are seeking to unleash a massive wave of violent demonstrations beginning next month, with ring leaders of civil unrest having received training in the Czech Republic and the Maldives
Further, our Harare Bureau has been told that after the trainings, the groups came and gave briefings to MDC-Alliance president, Mr Nelson Chamisa.
There is a group undergoing training in the Maldives, which started on Tuesday and ends on Sunday and is being conducted by Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Serbian organisation which trained MDC activists involved in the coordination of the January 14 to 16 violent protests.
Eight local activists, including a multimedia journalist from NewsDay, are attending the programme and will be instrumental in training and instigating mayhem to be rolled out in June.
The eight are drawn from various civic organisations which include Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellency, Centre for Community Development, Trust Africa, Rozaria Memorial Trust and Community Tolerance and Reconciliation Trust.
CANVAS was founded in 2003 by Serbian nationals Srdja Popovic and Ivan Morovic and has been involved in the training of anti-government activists in Azerbajan, Belarus, Georgia, Iran, Lebanon, Tibet, Ukraine and Venezuela.
MDC activists who attended the training in the Czech Republic were sponsored by Trust Africa (Zimbabwe) which is headed by Mr Briggs Bomba, who also heads Zimbabwe Alliance, a donor collaborative sponsoring regime change efforts in the country.
According to documents leaked from Mr Chamisa’s office, the MDC and Trust Africa seconded six members to the workshop, which was held in Prague, from May 6 to 10.
The purpose of the workshop was to share transitional experiences of countries such as Argentina, Georgia, Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic, among others. The workshop was funded by National Endowment for democracy (NED), an American private and non-profit organisation which focuses on “strengthening democratic institutions”.
Although Mr Bomba did not return calls as promised by his office, a source at Morgan Tsvangirai House – the MDC headquarters – confirmed details of the workshop held at CEVRO Institute, a private university in Prague, owned by a civic organisation with the same name.
According to the CEVRO website, the organisation was established in 1999 in Prague, as a non-profit organisation “seeking to support democratic development home and abroad”.
“The workshop was held at CEVRO Institute, Jungmannova 17, 111000 Prague 1, Room Number 218. The workshop topics focused on dismantling of the State Security apparatus and the investigation and prosecution of the crimes of the regime, among others.
“Case studies on the transition experiences were drawn from Georgia, Estonia, Argentina, Poland and Czech Republic. The activists also toured the Chamber of Deputies and Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.
“The workshop follows efforts to push for the formation of a transitional authority in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the 2018 harmonised elections,” the source said.
The workshop was also attended by activists from Vietnam, Armenia, Azerbaijah, Bolivia, Burma, Burundi, North Korea, Uganda and Venezuela.
According to the training programme, topics were based on the Georgian, Estonian, German, Polish, Russian and Czech experiences and centred on the dismantling of state security apparatus, prosecution of regime crimes and transformation of political system.
Presenters included CEVRO director Jiri Kozak; Anton Vacharadze, direction head at the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information; Gabriela Ippolito-O´Donnell, director of the School of Politics at the University of El Salvador; and Franciszek D’browski, a lecturer at the Academy of Warfare in Warsaw.
“The workshop focused on how to unseat authoritarian regimes using peaceful means. Modus operandi for the unseating would include massive demonstrations, sit-ins, student protests, civil disobedience and online activism. What we want to do is to pressurise the regime into concessions with protestors. The most powerful tool to be used is grassroots mobilisation and use of the internet for sharing information. This is exactly what we did during the January protests, we used the internet,” the MDC source said.
“We have been told that the security sector’s top hierarchy is disgruntled with the current regime and is willing to work with Nelson Chamisa but are fearful of their future in the aftermath of regime change. We have suggested that Chamisa should approach the security sector’s top hierarchy and assure them of no reprisals if the MDC wins.”
The MDC has previously denied instigating and coordinating public violence, especially on August 1, 2018 and January 14 to 16 this year.
The August 1 post-election violence left six people dead and property worth millions of dollars was destroyed in Harare.
Prior to the election, Mr Chamisa had threatened that he would make Zimbabwe ungovernable if he did not win.