13 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Rights Groups Accused of Pre-Poll Propaganda

Harare — HUMAN rights activists are again on the spotlight ahead of Zimbabwe elections for allegedly discrediting poll preparations in order to attract sponsorships from donors opposed to the political administration.

Foreign-funded local and international rights groups are accused of demonising Zimbabwe over the years.

The latest furore follows video footage, allegedly doctored, depicts pre-election violence ahead of the July 30 general polls.

A Zimbabwean activist heading the regional operations of a prominent international human rights group posted the disputed video footage on the social media site, Twitter. The human rights advocate is based in neighbouring South Africa.

"This kind of desperation, manufacturing videos to ask for more donor funds is despicable," lambasted social commentator, Gilbert Makamure.

He accused human rights groups of bias, alleging the human rights groups only cast the spotlight on alleged violence by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and turning a blind eye on skirmishes bedeviling the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Makamure argued despite the general atmosphere being peaceful, infighting engulfed MDC since the death of longtime leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in February.

Rival factions have clashed, leading to molestation of leaders opposed to the ascension of Nelson Chamisa as president.

"We have to be fair if we want peace to prevail during this election period," Makamure challenged rights groups.

Technology experts also denounced the abuse of technology to score political points and secure funding.

"Zimbabwean citizens are techno-savvy and have come of age. They are exposing lies around human rights violations by groups eager to receive international funding," Sinikiwe Ncube, a scholar at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), said.

Revai Gotora, an undergraduate at the Midlands State University, argued some rights groups struggling for funding amid the prevailing peaceful atmosphere created false impressions of electoral violence.

"This does not work because technology is now at our disposal to expose such flimsy claims," Gotora said.

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