The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) has dismissed the notion by state media that the SADC People’s Summit was an event focused on tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe and embarrass its President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Tanzania.
The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) People’s Summit has been running alongside the SADC heads of States summit since it’s inception in 2000.
In a statement just released, the body said it noted with great concern how the media especially (The Herald, The Patriot, Sunday Mail) had continued to peddle malicious lies about the organisation in relation to the SADC People’s Summit event held in Tanzania recently.
ZIMCODD said: “We would like to set the record straight, that never at any one point, was demonstrating against or ‘smearing’ the President (Mnangagwa) on the agenda of the 2019 People’s Summit. The Programme Agenda of the People’s Summit, which has been shared publicly and with security officials, bears testimony to this fact.”
The body added that all deliberations were pitched at regional level and with no specific focus on any particular country.
“The narrative by state media that ZIMCODD under the auspices of SAPSN sponsored Zimbabwean people to go to Tanzania for training in ‘banditry’ and destabilising the country was not correct.
“This allegation is not only malicious but insulting, provocative and reckless putting the lives of the innocent people who participated at the 2019 People’s Summit at risk.”
The event was cleared by Tanzania security officials in terms of their legal requirements. This included an undertaking that no demonstrations or public disorder would be done as such activities are not permissible under the country’s laws.
“Prior to entering Tanzania, all delegates names and identity details were submitted to Tanzania Foreign Affairs and Immigration officials for clearance. And the People’s Summit was held at the National Museum of Tanzania, a government institution, very close to a police station and less than two kilometres from the State House.
“In all earnest, for anyone to suggest that people were being trained for ‘banditry’ and political violence in such a setup, is unbelievable.”
“It is unfortunate and regrettable that journalists who have been authoring malicious stories, particularly Zvamaida Murwira, Darlington Musarurwa and Patience Rusare of Herald, Sunday Mail and the Patriot respectively, never at any point approached or contacted ZIMCODD to get the facts right or at least to here our side of the story,” ZIMCODD added.
The body went on to say that the Zimbabwean delegation was not in any way chosen on basis of their political affiliation: “ZIMCODD operates above political party lines in all its programming, we are issue based – our activities at home and abroad are testimony to this effect.” The People’s Summit was also attended by representatives from funding partners who were clearly stated in the programme that was made a public document before, during and after the event.
For the past seven consecutive years, ZIMCODD facilitated the participation of youths students in tertiary institutions from across the region competing in a debate, and public speaking tournament. These students were not only Zimbabweans, but were drawn from South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.
Since inception in 2000, ZIMCODD is and remains a social and economic justice coalition dedicated to facilitating citizens involvement in public policy and advocating for socioeconomic policies that are people centred and pro-poor. The coalition’s mandate is to take action in redressing the debt burden, social and economic injustices through formulation and promotion of alternative policies.
Meanwhile, commenting on the same issue, Norton Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa who also attended the summit said it was disheartening that the state media had taken the propaganda to far.
He said the whole program was published with the agenda clearly spelt, and no topic could be related to banditry.
“So much time and money is wasted on propaganda, yet people do not eat propaganda.
“This time The Herald has gone to far. Such condemnatory reports have the propensity to harm the good relationship between Zimbabwe and Tanzania, as the insinuation is that they are complicity in banditry and insurgence,” he said then.
Mliswa added that he was deeply offended by the defamations being peddled by the state media, urged them to retract the reports, and called for the reshuffling of the management the state media houses.