NGOs plan broader alliance against Zim crisis, dismiss POLAD

By Nkosana Dlamini

Zimbabwe’s civil society groups are planning to form an all-inclusive national dialogue platform to confront the country’s myriad challenges amid concerns President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform was just an elite pact merely formed for the optics.

This follows a meeting convened in Harare Thursday by groups associated with Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition to brainstorm on the need to form a broader citizen front under the banner of the national convergence for transformation.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of deepening socio-economic challenges that have driven families to total desperation.

The situation has been worsened by the Covid-19 menace that saw many families lose bread winners with some workers also losing employment as businesses adopted tougher measures to protect their interests at the expense of poor employees.

Government has further abandoned families that have been worst hit by the pandemic with authorities electing to channel massive resources towards projects that have no direct bearing on citizens’ lives such as the Mbuya Nehanda statue in Harare’s CBD.

On the political front, government, under Zanu PF has dug in and is not keen to allow citizen expression of freedoms with gatherings banned under ostensible measures aimed at preventing the spread of the pandemic.

The state has descended hard on citizens who have ignored the ban on protests and other gatherings.

Concerned about the challenges, civil society groups have taken it upon themselves to kickstart what they plan to be a genuine national dialogue process to try and remedy the challenges.

In a statement Friday, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said, “The meeting resolved to, among other issues, strengthen citizen agency and to rally ordinary Zimbabweans, including youths, women, farmers, marginalised populations, ethnic minorities and people living with disabilities to dialogue under the national convergence for transformation process.

“The meeting also raised concern over the continued looting of natural resources by political elites and the lack of political will to engage in a genuine all stakeholders dialogue which will unlock the Zimbabwean crisis.

“The meeting noted with concern the exclusive and elite nature of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform as well as the deepening intransigence of the state as necessary conditions for ordinary Zimbabweans to step up and define the Zimbabwe they want.”

Zimbabwe’s civil society groups also hope to draw from the goodwill and intellectual support from citizens living abroad.

“The convergence process will include all Zimbabweans, including the diaspora and across political party lines.

“The common denominator of this dialogue process is the dignity, happiness and freedom of ordinary Zimbabweans,” said the group.

As the crisis continues to torment citizens, government has continued to blame western imposed sanctions as the main cause of their misery.