By Mandla Ndlovu
The Zimbabwean government has accused a Serbian national Srdja Popovic of training civic society activists in Zimbabwe to topple the government.
The state-controlled Herald has reported that Srdja Popovic’s CANVAS organisation has of late been involved in the mobilisation of small groups of Zimbabweans to lead Zimbabweans into a mass uprising to remove the Emmerson Mnangagwa led government.
Government has arrested some activist with the State alleging the activists received training in organising mass protests, the use of small arms and counter-intelligence in the Maldives.
Minister of Home Affairs Cain Ndabazekhaya Ginyilitshe Mathema was quoted in the media saying, “Anybody who agitates, therefore, against the Government of the President of this country illegally will be dealt with according to the dictates of our laws.
“Those who are actually here for subversion and those who are being trained outside the country, will face the full wrath of the law. I have no qualms about it. I am prepared to use the law as it stands in Zimbabwe.”
Srdja Popovic was one of the founders and key organizers of the Serbian nonviolent resistance group Otpor!
Otpor!’s campaign to unseat Serbian president Slobodan Milosovic found success in October 2000 when hundreds of thousands of protestors converged upon and took over the Serbian Parliament, effectively ending Milosevic’s rule.
After the revolution, Popovic served a term as a member of the Serbian National Assembly 2000-2003.
In 2003, Popovic and other ex-Otpor! activists started the nonprofit educational institution the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS).
CANVAS has worked with people from 37 countries, including Zimbabwe, Burma, Iran and Venezuela, spreading knowledge on nonviolent strategies and tactics that was used by the Serbian pro-democracy movement to other non-democratic countries.
CANVAS has worked with the activists responsible for successful movements such as the Georgian “Rose Revolution” of 2003 and the Ukrainian “Orange Revolution” of 2004-2005.
It also transferred knowledge to Lebanese activists in 2004 to address the crisis after the assassination of Prime Minister Harriri, and assisted participants in the Maldives’ revolution in 2008.
Recently CANVAS has worked with April 6th, a key group in the Egyptian nonviolent uprising, as well as other groups from the Middle East. Byo24 News