By Bustop TV
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has recommended that the government allows Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) to control their own operations following the gazetting of the PVO Amendment Bill.
This comes after government on August 31 2021 approved the PVO Amendment Bill which was gazetted later on November 5 2021.
If signed into law the bill will threaten the operations of PVOs which for years been providing humanitarian aid, food security, legal support among other services to citizens in need.
Provisions of the bill further trample on citizens freedom of association as it requires PVOs to disclose any source of foreign funding.
In it’s Legal Monitor newsletter titled ‘ZLHR Analysis of Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill’ published in December 2021, the rights lawyers urged the government to instead emulate neighbouring countries which do not force NGOs and CSOs to register under a single law.
“Self-regulation of NGOs and CSOs to ensure that they are able to carry out their watchdog role over government. Current proposal of increasing the regulation powers of Public Service officials in the Registrar’s office, who are essentially part of the Civil Service, will severely undermine civil society’s watchdog role, especially when organisations can be de-registered on vague and flimsy
grounds as highlighted in the following sections.
“In neighbouring countries, although there are laws regulating not for profit organisations, some can still operate as common law universitas (South Africa) or Trusts (Botswana). All organisations are not compelled to register under one law as proposed by the PVO amendment.”
ZLHR added: “Subsection (3) gives the Minister extensive powers to unilaterally interfere with the activities of CSOs without any parliamentary oversight. It fails to guide what constitutes high risk or vulnerable to terrorist activities and it does not specify the procedure the Minister will use to determine such high risk or vulnerability.
“This provision could be applied to mean that all NPOs working on issues of
governance and human rights who receive foreign funding are placed in the high risk or vulnerable categories and subjected to more extensive measures prescribed by the Minister, which have not been determined and will not be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny.
“There is no clarity on the additional or special requirements, obligations, and measures to be taken.”
This article was produced with financial support of the Content Creators Network ZW.