THE European Union, Britain and the US government have been heavily funding efforts to discredit the forthcoming harmonised elections, documents in our possession reveal.Our investigations show that the United States Department of State has been making huge deposits into quasi-political groups masquerading as NGOs to prop up the MDC-T campaign while the department’s development aid arm, USAID has been sponsoring the Zimbabwe Election Support Network to come up with a negative report on the harmonised elections in anticipation of an MDC-T defeat.
The strategy is two-pronged. While the Department of State is pouring money into the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition to campaign for MDC-T, USAID is preparing for an MDC-T loss by availing money for drafting a damning, unempirical and biased election report aimed at discrediting the elections.
The US State Department made two separate deposits into a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition local account on January 23, 2013 (US$264 684) and June 24 2013 (US$187 978,04) to finance the so-called Feya Feya campaign which is designed to lure voters to the MDC-T under the guise of a campaign for peaceful, free and fair elections.
The EU, on the other hand, through non-governmental organisations, Humanist Institute for Co-operation (Hivos) and International Media Support (IMS) has also availed $ 736 530.00 to ZESN to carry out a quasi-election monitoring exercise whose intended purpose is to “authenticate” the Western stance that the elections are not free and fair if the MDC-T loses.
The money was paid in four tranches on April 17 2013 (US$168 258 and US$199 993-00), July 10, 2013 (US$168 258) and 11 July 2013 (US$199 993).
The British Embassy also joined the fray and availed US$156 000 on January 30, 2013 and US$161 000 (February 13, 2013) to Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition for the MDC-T campaign. On February 23, 2013, Morgan Tsvangirai met with British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert and DFID director where he begged for election funding.
Tsvangirai, in a two-page paper prepared by Jameson Timba, said, “I know that Jameson Timba, Elton Mangoma and Tendai Biti have spoken with you in recent days about desperate need for financial support to help level the playing field. We have agreed to share our strategy with you- any potential donor to our cause will wish to be clear what they are contributing to.”
He further exhorted Bronnert to avail funds saying: “I understand this is a tricky issue, but we know that if we can fund more effective organisation and communication, especially in the rural areas, we will prevail in the elections when it comes”
As a result of the meeting, the British Embassy availed tranches of money to the MDC-T through the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition using a conduit called the Global Advocacy Campaign (GAC) which is managed by Macdonald Lewanika, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director and Mr Timba.
Some of the funds have been used for the MDC-T Feya-Feya campaign that has not only been used to search for MDC-T votes, but has also lined Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director’s pockets with huge financial windfalls sometimes amounting to US$15 000 as shown in one transaction on July 16, 2013 where funds were transferred into the director’s personal account.
ZESN, which runs the MDC-T electoral loss palliative campaign secured a total US$5 019 327 for the elections from the European Union, Australian Government Overseas Aid Programme (Ausaid), Norwegian embassy, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) meant for sustaining a discrediting and smear campaign against Zanu-PF and the electoral process.
The organisation has not disappointed its donors for it has already prepared a damning pre-election report aimed at discrediting the electoral process, the ZEC and its staffers, Zanu-PF, President Mugabe and any perceived organisation that might stand in the way of an MDC-T win in the forthcoming harmonised elections.
In the report, ZESN mischievously purports that, “political violence which has continued during the life of the GNU was again evident in the period since the holding of the referendum” and that “Zimbabwe’s political environment has been characterised by an increase in the harassment and persecution of civil society activists and in the harassment of prospective voters . . .”
The highly speculative and thoroughly unempirical pre-election report further purports that “Intimidation, misinformation and disinformation about what would happen in the polling booths during the elections has been used to intimidate prospective voters into voting for Zanu-PF.”
The ZESN pre-election report is a complete anti-thesis of the African Union pre-election report which has, among other things, noted that the pre-election environment has been tranquil and very conducive to the holding of a free and credible election.
US embassy spokesperson Ms Sharon Hudson Dean, who refused to be specific on how the US had been funding the NGOs, confirmed funding the ZESN campaign.
“The US has been consistent in its support for the important role the civic society has been playing in every country including Zimbabwe and the US. These organisations advocate important issues and help to keep Governments and some powerful organisations from abusing their positions.
“We have been consistent in our calls for credible, transparent and peaceful elections in Zimbabwe that meet Sadc guidelines.
“We stated last week that we had some concerns about elements of the process but that we need to be careful not to prejudge it.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Mr Thabani Nyoni sought to deflect attention from his organisation saying Government, Jomic and ZEC were also beneficiaries of donor funds.
Efforts to get comment from ZESN were fruitless at the time of going to Press.