An analysis :I have been following the articles about Betty Makoni’s GCN and GCNW published in your paper and I would like to air my views on my observations that warrant further scrutiny for your readers and the public at large in order to come up with a true picture on why the GCN now GCNW founder left Zimbabwe for the UK and how many girls were helped.
Why I thought of sharing my observations is, it has become common practice for Zimbabwe fugitives to run away to the UK or other Western countries amid allegations of criminal offences like stealing public funds.Names that immediately come to mind are Gilbert Muponda and David Butau who quickly crossed borders and hibernated in Western countries with criminal allegations in hot pursuit.
It has also become common practice for Zimbabwe local NGO’s to engage in criminal activities.I worked for a local Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS NGO and it was very common for the bosses to exaggerate figures and practise all sorts of false claims to that effect.
To be specific, the articles that I am refering to and published in your newspaper are ,the one in which Betty Makoni travelled to USA for the CNN award with a man Robert Mukondiwa who stands behind notorious Robert Mugabe’s back and who shared a hotel room with a ZANUPF CIO on Mugabe’s recent trip to Namibia, and the article in which Betty is said to have bribed a Kwayedza news editor Gilbert Munetsi with $800 to have him re–write a story that was initially written by a junior reporter so as to kill the donor funds abuses levelled against the organisation.
After reading the mentioned articles in your publication I looked for some GCN and Betty Makoni articles previously published by others specifically one published by a Zimbabwe online paper titled ‘MUGABE PLOT TO ELIMINATE BETTY MAKONI TURNS UGLY’ and published on Friday, 06 November 2009 .
Why I looked for this November 2009 article is, the contents of the article that got me thinking at the time it was published,came back to my mind after reading the recent articles published by your paper.
The article ‘MUGABE PLOT TO ELIMINATE BETTY MAKONI TURNS UGLY’ which was published by Zimdiaspora and currently online started by saying “ A fierce ZANU-PF sponsored campaign to soil the good name of Girl Child Network (GCN) founding director, Betty Makoni has been intensified by President Mugabe’s allies, The Zimdiaspora can reveal.”
In reference to one of the articles published by your paper in August 2011, the former Kwayedza news editor Gilbert Munetsi is quoted in 2009 saying,
“Betty Makoni left Zimbabwe passing through Botswana because her husband got a job in UK and Betty said she left not because she was in trouble with the government but because her husband got a contract to work for London 2012 Olympic games.”
The article by Zimdiaspora goes on to state that “Through her Girl Child Network, Makoni has helped rescue 35,000 girls from abuse and thousands more have found an empowering community and a public forum in which to speak out.”
But an article which was published in The Zimbabwean recently says that “ Makoni Betty has mobilised over 300 000 girls most of them victims of rape and forced traditional and religious marriages, to be empowered…..More than 45 000 sexually abused girls have been empowered and rehabilitated through family, school and in the community.”
The paper also says ” Makoni founded the Girl Child Network to provide a haven for young victims of sexual abuse. Trouble started after she produced a scathing report on the abuse of women and girls during President Mugabe’s condemned Murambatsvina. The report was later circulated around the world. For that, President Mugabe has never forgiven her and was told face-to-face by Mugabe’s closest ally Didymus Mutasa that her sins were unforgivable as far as the president is concerned.”
The Zimdispora article goes on to say,
“According to a story originally published by the state-media weekly newspaper, Umthunywa (Kwayedza) and then reproduced by two British-based Zimbabwean on-line publications, Makoni’s Girl Child Network employees are living from hand to mouth after going for several months without pay.But The Zimdiaspora can reveal that the Girl Child Network does not keep full-time employees as it is only a network organisation.This explains that the story is another false attempt by Mugabe’s men to smear a distinguished woman who has changed the lives of many suffering Zimbabweans.”
In contradiction to the above statement GCN is accused of not paying workers as initially reported by the Daily Newspaper in which one of the former employees took the organisation to court for non payment of salary and benefits.The paper is quoted saying “Labour court arbitrator J T Mawire of Eastlea suburb, Harare ruled in Mapimhidze’s favour against GCN, represented by Nyikadzino, Koworera and Partners for failing to honour its obligations in terms of the employment contract; failing to pay salaries and benefits as stipulated in the contract and for substantial variations on the contract.”
Is Mapimhidze who won the case against GCN in the labour court not a former employee who was not paid her salaries by GCN?
“The state media reporters who visited schools in Chitungwiza where Makoni used to help school girls claim to have met with a lot of complaints that the network boss had neglected them.Some of the school girls are no longer going to school due to lack of funds for school fees.We can now reveal that the Betty Makoni story was initiated by President Mugabe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) ” published the Zimdiaspora.
Zimdiaspora further revealed that Betty Makoni’s story was initiated by President Mugabe’s CIO’s but in one of your publications we read that a ZANUPF man Robert Mugabe who stands behind Robert Mugabe and travels with him was paid by GCN Betty Makoni to do accounts and other duties for the organisation and he also nominated Betty for CNN hero according to the same report and we saw a photo of the two at CNN hero awards that you published.
How can someone who ran away from Robert Mugabe and his CIO’s be close to weird men who travel with Mugabe?
In a different report a few months back in your newspaper you published a report in which Betty Makoni was seen visiting a former ZANUPF CIO in Britain ,a Dee Jay Simba who is also ZANUPF terrorist Saviour Kasukuwere’s close ally .The two,Betty Makoni and Dee Jay Simba also run an online radio show together and this radio is said to be owned by Dee Jay Simba.
A question that quickly comes to mind is,If Betty Makoni ran away from ZANUPF CIO’s why does she feel at home with them?One would expect that she would not be interested in the thugs she ran away from?
Zimdiaspora further says , “According to one on-line publication, a letter addressed to the Oxfam Novib headquarters in the Netherlands dated 23 September 2009, Ger Roebeling the Interim Regional Manager for Southern Africa says Makoni is not responding to emails written to her in connection with financial maladministration. But Makoni says she is frequently in touch with Oxfam and was only an hour’s drive away from their offices.”
Editor, I understand the Netherlands is not in the UK where Betty Makoni is ,so how can she be an hour’s drive away from Oxfam Novib’s offices?Unless I’m missing something.
Going further , Zimdiaspora wrote , “ Indeed, by Mr (Robert) Mugabe’s standards, Makoni should be eliminated just as what happened to other Zimbabweans who either opposed or exposed him. Security insiders have told us that if Makoni had not been evacuated from Zimbabwe by Ashoka, she will be dead by now, just as what happened to Josiah Tongogara, Lockout Masuku, Edwin Nleya, Rashiwe Guzha, Sydney Malunga, Mthandazo-Ndema Ngwenya the list is too long.”
Editor, Betty Makoni is a non entity in Zimbabwe political circles and it boogles the mind why anyone would compare her to political heavy weights like Josiah Tongogara? If Mugabe was after her why did Didymus Mutasa release her ?This calls for futher investigation to establish why she ended up in Didymus Mutasa’s office.
Reading many other published GCN articles where does it say Betty was evacuated from Zimbabwe by Ashoka as published by the Zimdiaspora?We read that she left Zimbabwe to join her husband who got a job in the UK and also that she ran away from Mugabe.So did Ashoka offer her husband the job or help her to run away from Mugabe?
In the same Zimdiaspora paper Betty is quoted saying ,”I have compiled evidence that I hope will be used in prosecuting Mugabe in the international criminal court. Some of the evidence is scary and gruesome. I wonder why the international community has allowed Mugabe to kill, torture and plunder with impunity. There is no doubt Mugabe is a criminal,” she said.
And Zimdiaspora further says, “Although, today she is rated as Mugabe’s number one target, Makoni has fought for nearly a decade to protect her country’s young girls from sexual abuse. And, she has witnessed some of the worst cases of the myth in action.”
Editor we do know who Mugabe’s number one targets are.These are political freedom fighters and those who oppose Mugabe,many of who have been tortured and murdered and have left the country for such reasons.
However, Zimdiaspora in the same article ‘MUGABE PLOT TO ELIMINATE BETTY MAKONI TURNS UGLY’ went on to contradict themselves saying ,” But, even though Makoni has joined her husband and family in Britain where she thinks she is safe, Mugabe’s allies, some of them even working from the British capital have started persecuting this noble woman. Yet, thousands of abused Zimbabwean women and girls would die to defend Makoni, the best human being to happen to their lives. They say Makoni changed their lives for ever.”
Now who are these Mugabe’s allies working from the British capital London who have started persecuting this noble woman?This calls for clarification.Can you ask the GCN boss about the Mugabe men persecuting her in Britain.We saw her standing with a Mugabe man Dee Jay Simba in Britain so where are the persecutors?How come we have not heard her naming the persecutors?
The same paper said Betty ran away from ZANUPF but changed in the middle of it all to say Betty joined her husband in Britain .If she ran away from Mugabe isn’t it the husband and family are the ones who are supposed to join her in Britain and not the other way round?
Analysing further Zimdiaspora in the same 2009 article quotes Betty saying GCN has 500 girls clubs.
“Through the Girl Child Network (GCN) Betty has built three safe villages (also called empowerment villages) for very vulnerable girls and started 500 girls’ clubs with 30,000 members, mostly in rural areas and in poor townships.”
But in an article titled ‘ZIMBABWE GIRLS FIGHT BACK’, published by the UK Guardian in 2008 Betty was quoted saying GCN has 700 clubs.Quoted below,
“As a 24-year-old teacher Betty Makoni realised that two-thirds of the girls at her school were dropping out of class mostly due to poverty, rape and infection with HIV…..Betty started a group where girls could discuss their problems and support each other. Her Girl Child Network now supports 700 girls’ clubs across Zimbabwe”.
The same Guardian article mentions that,
“Makoni saves girls from child labour, forced marriage, abuse, trafficking and sexual assault. She gives girls food, clothes, medical care, a home, the chance to go to school, and safety. “
However ,the Financial Gazette Newspaper in November 2008, confirmed that GCN was never involved in saving girls from child trafficking contradicting what the Guardian was made to publish by Betty.
“The US State department advanced a US$152 000 grant to GCN to help fight child trafficking in Zimbabwe through awareness campaigns, training and rehabilitation of rescued girls for the period September 2007 to August 2008.” wrote the Financial Gazette.
“Sources at GCN say the outreach programme never materialised because Makoni withheld funds from personnel on the ground.No reports on the progress of the project have been made although the period over which the grant was supposed to have been used has since passed with not even one girl child trafficking victim on its records.” Added the paper.
With this editor how do readers get a true picture of what is transpiring in this organisation? I hope my observations will prompt you to investigate further the operations of this organisation and allow readers and the public to know exactly what triggered Betty Makoni to run away from Zimbabwe.