SOME Western countries have started their meddlesome politics ahead of the 2018 elections in a bid to effect regime change amid reports that the European Union has also pledged millions of dollars to local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for similar ends.
Investigations by this paper show that German Ambassador to Zimbabwe Dr Thorsten Hutter was in Bulawayo last week to investigate the political situation in the Matabeleland region and push for a coalition of opposition parties to contest the ruling Zanu-PF party in the 2018 elections.
Dr Hutter reportedly hosted a dinner at a city lodge for local NGOs, church-based groups and political parties where he also conducted parallel meetings with the same, pledging his country’s support towards their activities.
There are also indications that British Ambassador Ms Catriona Laing, who was in the city this week, also met some representatives of political parties for the same agenda.
The engagements are despite the fact that Ambassadors are not supposed to dabble in the domestic politics of the countries that they are posted to.
Some of the opposition party officials who reportedly interacted with Dr Hutter include Zapu president Dr Dumiso Dabengwa, People’s Democratic Party secretary general Mr Gorden Moyo and acting Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Collet Ndlovu.
Clr Ndlovu yesterday confirmed meeting the German Ambassador and discussing a number of issues including political developments ahead of the 2018 elections.
“As you know ambassadors make their visits during this season and the German ambassador wanted to know what was happening in the city in terms of development and infrastructure. He wanted to know how we were working with the Government and if we are getting any grants from Treasury,” said Clr Ndlovu.
“We should be getting five percent from the government’s revenue but we haven’t been getting it for years. On the political developments we discussed, the ambassadors said they were coming from Harare where people in the streets were talking about elections. He asked why as Bulawayo we were so quiet.
“We told him that we were quiet because we know we are going to win come elections so we were just waiting for the date.”
Efforts to get a comment from the PDP secretary general were fruitless yesterday but the party’s Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Mr Edwin Ndlovu denied that Mr Moyo met with the German Ambassador, saying: “That is not true, we never met any ambassador from anywhere.”
However, sources within the PDP confirmed that Mr Moyo met with Dr Hutter and discussed among a number of things, a coalition between parties ahead of the 2018 elections.
“Some of the concerns raised by the Ambassador in the secret meetings with political parties included the slow pace with which the coalition talks were progressing. The German ambassador encouraged parties to come together and contest Zanu-PF as a single unit.
“The ambassador also wanted to know the strengths of the parties in the Matabeleland region in as far as which one has a strong hold,” said a source.
Dr Dabengwa could neither deny nor confirm the meeting instead asking: “Why don’t you ask the ambassador? Many ambassadors have been coming to Bulawayo, why the interest on this particular one? I can’t give you an answer on that one.”
Meanwhile, Ms Laing also met Dr Dabengwa at the same city lodge the German ambassador had his meetings with Mr Moyo and other political parties.
The meeting took place on the sidelines of a Bulawayo City Council programme where she was a guest.
Elsewhere, an EU delegation met with representatives of NGOs at a Bulawayo hotel where the bloc pledged funding running into millions of dollars for regime change.
In the meeting, the delegation reportedly raised concerns over what they called the sprouting of organisations ahead of the 2018 elections.
“The delegation said the NGOs stood to benefit from funding of up to $3 million if they formed consortiums instead of being too many separate entities that were doing the same thing.
“They pledged support to various programmes ahead of the elections, adding that individual organisations would get around $500 000,” said a source.
Zanu-PF provincial chairman Cde Dennis Ndlovu called on the Government to investigate the conduct of the ambassadors and the EU delegation.
“We never saw them; it means they held secret meetings with their friends from the opposition. We call on the Government to investigate their conduct,” he said.
At the beginning of this month, Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba said the Government was on the lookout for all nefarious and underhand machinations by the West ahead of the polls.
“The beast is in heat again. We are slowly inching towards elections and the Westerners are back with their mischief, except they don’t know we are watching. We are also aware of their involvement in other areas, including fomenting instability in the labour market,” he said.
The comments came following a surprise US$5 million donation to civil society by the European Union (EU) ostensibly to strengthen so called democratic participation and accountable monitoring by NGOs in Zimbabwe.
However, the funding was unmasked to be escalated machinations to influence next year’s harmonised elections by funding “dubious” opposition projects and fomenting instability using quasi-political civil society organisations.