The Sunday Mail
The cash taps have well and truly been turned on.
It seems hardworking Zimbabweans in faraway lands have been doing their bit to support family and friends back home, including bankrolling potentially rewarding business ventures and projects.
Last year, they pumped in an incredible US$1,4 billion, which was US$400 million more than what they sent in 2020.
The trend has spilled into the new year, as US$388 million had already been wired during the first three months of this year.
The pattern is set to inexorably continue as the unremitting and almost imperceptible human tidal wave of migrations from Harare to London – anxious to plug the National Health Service (NHS) England’s 40 000-nurse shortfall – continues, further guaranteeing a steady stream of future cash flows back home.
You see, after having its health sector stretched and strained by the coronavirus pandemic, the UK has been hiring health personnel from former colonies such as India and Zimbabwe by the planeload.
As a result, we are left with the conundrum of figuring out what is best: Losing skilled workers or pocketing the resultant remittances?
Until recently, our people used to get quite the shakedown when they were vetted for visas to travel to the Queen’s cold isles, but now they can catwalk their way through Heathrow Airport as if they are talking a stroll in Mbare Musika or Makokoba.
Argh, what a thoroughly unfair world we live in. It seems the rich can always pay and have their way.
But the Bishop digresses.
Interestingly, it is not only the Diaspora that has been loosening the purse strings: Non-governmental organisations have been shovelling in wads of cash as well, especially over the past couple of years.
Boy oh boy, they are making it rain.
After having received US$647 million in 2021, local NGOs pocketed a tidy US$975 million — close to a billion — last year, which represents a more than 50 percent jump in appropriations. Just for perspective, this was the country’s second-largest source of foreign currency receipts during that period and is more than the US$850 million that USAID poured into the NGO sector before the 2013 elections. In the January to March period, almost a quarter of a billion US dollars in NGO monies — US$242 million — have found their way into our teapot-shaped Republic.
This is huge!
Where Bishop Lazi stands, this is also good and bad: Good because it brings in the much-needed forex in the economy, some of which genuinely gets to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans; bad because a significant chunk is funnelled to some organisations disguised as non-governmental and civil society organisations whose goals are aligned with adversarial foreign powers bent on stirring up trouble and mischief. In fact, they are merely representatives of hostile agents from foreign states.
Open Season in Silly Season
You might have seen that last week there was growing agitation for a stayaway— whatever that is — fronted by some organisations and groups such as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition that invariably benefit from these foreign-dispensed largesse.
In their estimation, they thought that the transitory transport blues recently experienced by commuters and the angst caused by a volatile Zimbabwe dollar, which consequently resulted in painful price hikes particularly of basic commodities, created propitious conditions for civil unrest from a groundswell of perceived discontent.
It was never to be!
But, it is not fortuitous that the idea for a stayaway began to be desperately pushed after the abysmal failure by organisations such as Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) to influence teachers to abscond from work when schools opened on May 3. It had become the norm that when schools were about to open, there were active mischievous campaigns calculated at paralysing the education system through inciting teachers not to report for duty on the pretext of being severely incapacitated.
Such mischief was fated to fail this time round, as civil servants increasingly recognise and acknowledge Government’s effort to improve their welfare.
However, we now know, as we have always suspected, that last week’s abortive subversive action was the handiwork of individuals and organisations linked to this creature called the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), who were on a kite-flying mission ahead of further destabilisation plots ahead of the 2023 elections.
It must not be forgotten that in 2020, a little-known politician, Jacob Ngarivhume, who is also known for his intimate liaisons with NED, unsuccessfully tried to organise and front July 31 demonstrations ostensibly to make the country ungovernable.
The absurdity of it all is the fact that here was a thoroughly unpopular politician – who only managed to garner a pitiable 638 votes in Bikita East in the 2018 harmonised elections against 10 261 for ZANU PF’s Johnson Madhuku — trying to lead a popular revolt against a popular ruling party whose candidate had crushed him at the polls.
But, we need to be vigilant and budget for more similar mischief down the road as we approach the 2023 elections.
The Bishop hears there is a US$5 million kitty from the Americans for NGOs and civil society groups that intend to promote Washington’s “values” and “foreign policy interests”. NED has already recently announced that it will be doling out US$50 000 to Youth Forum Zimbabwe “to strengthen the capacity of youth activists in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa to participate in anti-corruption initiatives”.
We know what that means.
There are also rich pickings for Peter Mutasa, a Nelson Chamisa ally who almost ran the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) aground, who is set to get US$92 000 from NED through the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition South Africa Desk.
And NED unashamedly claims the “regional office will mobilise regional allies to broaden support for Zimbabwean civil society and pro-democracy campaigns throughout Southern Africa”.
This is where those meddlesome characters such as South Africa’s Mmusi Maimane and Zambia’s Joseph Kalimbwe come in.
There is more money for Chamisa’s friend Pedzisai Ruhanya, whose organisation Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) has been allocated about US$50 000, including Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (US$145 000), Jestina Mukoko’s Zimbabwe Peace Project (US$100 000), comedian Samm Farai Monro or Cde Fatso’s Magamba Network (US$140 000) that produces skits under Bustop TV.
Remember comedienne Samantha Kureya, also known as Gonyeti, who claimed in August 2019 that she had been abducted by State agents and forced to drink raw sewer?
She was once a famed actor under the pervasively named stable.
The above list is by no means exhaustive.
So prepare yourselves for more mischief to come.
Thugs in suits & vestments
Not many know about this creature called NED, which was formed in 1983.
It is essentially a sanitised version of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was borne out of the need to launder the image of the agency after the embarrassment and disgust that resulted after it was exposed, mostly by its own agents, for involvement in heinous activities such as assassinations, murder, torture, kidnappings, engineering coups and drug trafficking, among other despicable activities, under the guise of national security.
Journalist Kenny Coyle once wrote that the NED’s “function was to take over the political regime change programmes from the CIA by presenting itself as an independent and private non-governmental organisation”, adding that “the NED funding on its own can be misleading as to the real level of resources the US devotes to destabilising unfriendly governments and shoring up friendly ones”.
“To get a clearer picture,” he opined, “we need to look at other US agencies, in particular the official US aid and development organisation USAID.”
It is therefore unsurprising that in content, form and character, NED is a blunt instrument of the CIA.
To all intents and purposes, it is wielded and weaponised by Washington’s security hawks. These are thugs in suits and vestments. This is why you find that in organisations such as Jestina Mukoko’s ZPP, there are sprinklings of clergymen or clergywomen under various banners who are meant to give a modicum of decency, respectability and deniability to some of these shenanigans.
If you need a better appreciation of what type organisation NED is, you need not look beyond the men and women who preside over it. Board member Elliott Abrams is one such unsavoury character who is reviled in Latin America for destabilising governments.
During Trump’s one-term administration, he was Washington’s top envoy in Caracas, Venezuela, where he tried to topple Nicolas Maduro and replace him with a Chamisa-like version called Juan Guaido.
Jendayi Frazer, who as US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs famously had epic run-ins with Cde Robert Mugabe, prompting the tough statesman to call her “a little American girl trotting around the globe like a prostitute…”, is also part of the board. Kikikiki.
It is a typical Hall of Fame for Washington’s henchmen and henchwomen.
Its efforts here will, however, all come to naught.
1 Timothy 6:9-11 warns: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Proverbs 17:16 quizzically asks: “Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom when he has no sense?”
And the wise often say a fool and his money are soon parted.
Further, there is a local proverb that equates investing in an unproductive venture to fastening your fortune on the leg of the fastest animal on Earth — the Cheetah!
It often ends it tears.
In July 2018, the US, through the USAID Office of the Inspector General (OIG), probed three NGOs — the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Counselling Services Unit (CSU) — on allegations of abusing funds.
The directors were allegedly splurging on women, luxurious cars, houses, among other carnal pursuits. It’s hard to see how it will be different this time around.
The money will be chowed in some seedy joints, except this time the sponsored NGOs will be hard-pressed to justify the funds, which will obviously make them desperate — and foolishly dangerous.