By Lerato Ndlovu
For years the Zimbabwean community has been getting aid from Private Voluntary Organisations with very little dissatisfaction in regards to the country’s politics and the PVO bill if passed into law exposes these communities.
The provision in the proposed PVO amendment Bill of prohibition from political involvement for PVOs creates room for the persecution of pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders and NGOs that may be involved in promoting and protecting civil and political rights that are protected under the Constitution and international instruments that Zimbabwe has signed and ratified.
Vice Chairman of Southern Defenders (Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network) Prof Adriano Nuvunga stated that the Government should initiate an extensive consultation process with the civil society as the constitution states before changing the legal framework.
“Before passing any such legislation and considering its potential impact on the ordinary people as end beneficiaries of the work of NGOs, the GoZ should first initiate an extensive consultation process with civil society as outlined in Chapter 14 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe if it wishes to change the legal framework through which NGOs come into existence and operate in Zimbabwe.
“We regrettably see the manipulation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations as a pretext by the government to attack civil society and contravene a country’s obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights law to promote universal respect for, and observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
Girls of Today Director, Rumbidzai Maunde stated that blocking Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from participating in politics and having the minister appointing one or more persons as trustees to run the affairs of an NGO will affect their operations.
“The Bill allows the Minister to appoint one or more persons as trustees to run the affairs of an NGO for a period not exceeding sixty days if he feels that there is a need for that, in my opinion I believe it will affect how some organisations operate around the country, since every organisation has its own modus operandi, and an outsider cannot and should not tell a business how to operate.
“From a perspective of how the world is operating, non-governmental organisations have been rendering as much help as they can get while they try to recover and rebuild after a minor or major disaster through contributions to recognised disaster relief organisations in a country since they know what will be required and what supports economic recovery,” she said.
“With such a bill, I foresee many big organisations pulling out of aiding the country, yet it is of great importance for the welfare of some citizens.”
These NGOs called on the government to be guided by the constitution of Zimbabwe and international instruments binding on Zimbabwe as well as the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (UN Declaration on HRDS).
This article was produced with financial support of the Content Creators Network ZW.