BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE ruling Zanu PF party has declared war against civic society organisations (CSOs) for highlighting human rights abuses allegedly being perpetrated by Chinese investors in the country.
CSOs have raised the red flag over Chinese business operations, accusing them of causing unnecessary displacement of communities and damaging the country’s ecologically-sensitive sites and desecrating ancestral graves.
During a Press briefing at the Zanu PF headquarters yesterday, party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said CSOs that were denigrating Chinese investments were being used as conduits for regime change by the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
He specifically mentioned the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), a conglomerate of over 80 CSOs, accusing it of aiding the opposition to frustrate Chinese investments in favour of Western companies.
“What we have seen of late is that Western companies, which championed sanctions are beginning to lose out on investment,” Mutsvangwa said.
“There is an attempt now to use NGOs (non-governmental organisations) as an avenue to make up for the deficit to their capacity to compete in the investment marketplace. So the CiCZ, which used to persecute Zanu PF and has failed to dislodge Zanu PF, has now spiked its guns against Chinese companies coming to Zimbabwe.
“Today it is Chinese investors, tomorrow it will be the Indian and the next day it will be Turkish investors — you want to make this country a racial country simply because you want to protect the British tradition. This will not happen under the watch of Zanu PF and President Emmerson Mnangagwa. CiZC can go hang. The country will attract investment from whoever wants to invest in this country. CiCZ must desist forthwith. That is why we, as war veterans, have issued a statement against them and we shall be there to call out CiCZ as it tries to organise against investment in Zimbabwe and expose it.”
The threats against CSOs also came at a time when the Zanu PF-led government has announced plans to introduce a controversial Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill that seeks to regulate the operations of NGOs in the country.
Mutsvangwa threatened to take legal action against the anti-Chinese CSOs to “protect the Chinese investments”.
“We will take them (CiZC) to the courts,” Mutsvangwa said.
“We will take them to the (Zimbabwe) Human Rights Commission. We will take every constitutional avenue that exists in this country to protect the fairness of the investment arena in the country. We will not allow them to do what they have done in the political arena. They are agents of regime change. They want to be a substitute of the CCC if it fails.
“We argue as Zanu PF that Zimbabwe is open for business. As a party, we do not distinguish the origins of an investment. The companies who invest in Zimbabwe register their companies in Zimbabwe under the laws of the country. The moment they come to Zimbabwe they become citizens like anybody else. If they are violating the laws, let them be taken to the courts.”
But the CiZC yesterday vowed that it would continue highlighting lack of transparency on Chinese business operations to protect citizens from human rights abuses.
“It is sad that instead of listening to and protecting its citizens against malpractices by most Chinese companies, the government targets those that are raising alarm,” CiZC chairperson Peter Mutasa said.
“We are concerned, but not surprised because the government or ruling party always uses propaganda to deflect genuine citizens’ grievances. We challenge the ruling party and government to carry out transparent and independent investigations into the conduct of most Chinese companies. The investigations must look at labour, communities and environmental issues. Parliamentary portfolio committees and constitutional commissions like the (Zimbabwe) Human Rights Commission must look into these complaints being raised by citizens.”
Speaking at the same Press conference, Zanu PF commissar Mike Bimha claimed that some members of the ruling party were attacked by a mob armed with catapults in Bulawayo.
Bimha said the matter was under police investigation, adding that he was not aware which political party had perpetrated violence against its members.
“After a successful rally in Epworth at the weekend, we had our members attacked in Njube, Bulawayo, by members of the opposition,” Bimha said.
“The opposition members threw stones at the Zanu PF members and some were using catapults. We are yet to establish the actual number of our members who have been injured and the severity of the injuries. The matter has been reported to the police.”
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