BY MOSES MATENGA
CIVIC society organisations (CSOs) have expressed concern over alleged militarisation of civilian processes and interference by the army in several non-military institutions, including the Judiciary and electoral bodies.
Several civic society organisations met in Harare last week and submitted a “coterie of substantive issues” to MDC leader Nelson Chamisa that included the taking over by the army of civilian spaces among other concerns.
“Civil society also raised concern around the militarisation of civilian processes and noted that the military control all civilian spaces and this undermines professionalism, integrity, impartiality and competence,” Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Marvelous Khumalo said.
During the meeting, Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya is said to have argued that the military had captured four zones of contestation, the Judiciary, elections, Executive and the media.
“Dr (Pedzisai) Ruhanya, the director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute argued that the military had captured four zones of contestation: the Judiciary, elections, Executive and the media providing evidence of deployment of senior serving members of the military,” the statement from the meeting read.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi on Monday requested questions in writing, but had not responded by last night.
“Please send your questions in writing. lf they told you that what must we do? l know you want to keep the army boiling and you just want to earn your money for nothing,” Mugwisi said. “Send your questions and I will respond and we know you are just looking for news. But those are tired stories, just put your questions in writing,” he said.
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The CSOs meeting also raised concern over the shrinking democratic space amid alleged criminalisation of civil society work.
More than 23 people are facing charges of subversion and the rights to association and expression are under threat with civic society organisations and MDC claiming to be the most affected.
Several MDC leaders have been dragged before the courts facing different charges including subversion.
These include MDC vice-chairperson Job Sikhala and national organising secretary Amos Chibaya.
Concern was also raised over the slow pace of addressing problems associated with the disputed 2018 elections with both the ruling party and opposition failing to initiate debate and a process in Parliament to bring the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to account.
“The absence of action to correct the contentious issues on the Electoral Act and regulations and the conduct of political parties dents the prospects of free, fair and credible elections in 2023,” the meeting heard.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson Rashid Mahiya, is said to have presented to the MDC a civil society framework on the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis.
On dialogue, the grouping noted that there was need for an honest national conversation that should reflect on the causes of the crisis and proffer solutions.
“Such a process must be broad-based and inclusive of actors beyond political parties, including business, civil society, academia, labour, women and the youth.
The coalition will be hosting a series of meetings with political parties as part of its engagement to find a lasting solution to the persisting national crisis.