SIMON Khaya Moyo, the Zanu PF national chairperson and heir apparent to the vacant Vice-President post, on Tuesday night took the country’s civil society organisations (CSOs) to the cleaners, labelling them ignorant by allegedly sidelining the new administration’s development agenda.
Khaya Moyo’s beef with the CSOs, who gathered in Bulawayo until yesterday for a conference whose theme was “Zimbabwe: Present Realities and Future Prospects” was that they were deliberately ignoring President Robert Mugabe’s victory, albeit controversial.
But critics of Zanu PF have been quick to say Khaya Moyo was out of order, pointing out that it is not the place of CSOs to endorse leadership elected through questionable means. CSOs, the critics argue, have roles to be watchdogs of the government, articulate citizens’ interests and demand, defend citizens’ rights and provide life-saving interventions where the government is failing — not endorsing flawed elections.
Judging by Khaya Moyo’s tone, it would seem the government is willing and desperately wants to engage civil society in Zimbabwe.
We believe there is a beckoning on the part of the government that the current challenges besetting the country, especially the socioeconomic, will require all domestic players to come together and dialogue. This will also ensure collective common action as well as preserving some semblance of domestic stability, upon which the country’s recovery will be premised.
So Khaya Moyo’s speech, though it was tough and hard-hitting on civil society and academia, was also meant to create leverages for the government should this engagement take shape.
The government does not want to come into an engagement platform disempowered, especially given that there are still some quarters that have not fully and openly endorsed its legitimacy.
The government wants to make sure the case of legitimacy is fully settled.
Once that is fully settled, the government will not engage civil society and academia under an unclear framework under which its authority is questioned.
That is what Khaya Moyo wanted to set as a platform. Furthermore, the government is sceptical of just how much domestication will result from its engagement with CSOs.
This is why Khaya Moyo emphasised the need for exclusion of foreign agenda and the inclusion of purely domestic agendas when and should this engagement take off.
Remember Khaya Moyo is a former diplomat. Despite being hard-hitting, his speech should be seen as a re-engagement speech.
It should be seen as the government revealing its desperation and need to engage, but also being cautious that such engagement is not entered from a standpoint where the government comes in without its due authority.