President Emmerson Mnangagwa and EU envoy to Harare Timo Olkkonen
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has been urged to embrace civil society as partners in development rather than as enemies if he is to achieve his agenda 2030 of making Zimbabwe a middle-income economy.
This was said by European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen on Saturday while addressing the National Association of Non Governmental Organization (NANGO) expo in Harare.
“Therefore the civil society is not an opponent but an ally in development,” Olkkonen said.
He added: “Civil Society has an important role to play as Zimbabwe thrives to attain middle income status by 2030 as it compliments the work done by the government.
“An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system as it promote pluralism, inclusiveness and democratic governance.”
Olkkonen has clashed with Mnangagwa on several occasions in the past few months over human rights issues. The EU envoy expressed concern at what he said was a shrinking civic space in Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks over a spat of protests bans, arrests of civil society and political activists as well as claims of abductions and torture.
The recent “abduction” of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association acting president Peter Magombeyi triggered an outpouring of emotions and condemnation from across the world but the Zanu PF leader has denied involvement instead describing the medical practitioner as a “political trickster.”
Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema has warned Magombeyi has to prove he was abducted or face jail.
The medical doctor was reportedly seized by unknown people on September 14, held captive for five days before he was dumped just outside Harare.
Olkkonen has also been incensed by Mnangagwa’s decision to ban protests planned by the opposition in August.
In a speech read on her behalf by a Ministry official, Public Service Minister Sekai Nzenza said government acknowledged the role of civil society in development but would soon publish a list of organisations that have failed to meet registration requirements with a view to de-register them.
Nzenza said Mnangagwa’s administration was also worried by what she called “political civil society groups.” NEWS263