By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu
Masvingo- The amendment of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill has been criticized by the Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) in Masvingo who have demanded that it be withdrawn as it is a threat to their welfare and to human rights.
The PVO Amendment Bill contains a provision that allows the PVO Board to cancel the registration of a PVO if it engages in political activities and has to disclose the source of their funding.
The spokesperson of the Masvingo United Ratepayers and Residents Alliance (MURRA), Godfrey Mtimba said the bill will affect communities that rely on the aid of the PVOs.
“The suggested bill and its amendments will restrict the work of all PVOs, trusts, associations and organisations that provide charitable work to societies. The amendments will violate important human rights and affect communities that depend on the work of PVOs and associations and trusts like MURRA. So what it means is that it will affect our work as we will no longer be able to do socio economic rights awareness and advocacy to residents as the provisions of this bill will restrict us. MURRA might be rendered non-existent to some extent. Those who critique or oppose the government will be deemed opponents of the government, and will limit citizen participation in national processes.”
He added: “The bill will make it a punishable crime for organisations to receive funding without registration or to receive funds from outside the country and give the minister power to be informed about any fund that comes from outside the country. All organisations will be captured by the State, as MURRA we are against the bill, the provisions are harsh and we say it is draconian and seeks to silence the work of civic society organisations and those who give discerning views to the system.”
Masvingo Residents Trust (MRT) Secretary General, Prosper Tiringindi stated that it will complicate the operations of many non governmental organisations.
“The issue of the PVO Bill affects the operations of organisations as the government can dismiss the board of trustees and the question then will be, who will compensate those people? The bill will give the government the power to control the civic society and this will weaken the organisation structures, the organisation will lose its viability as every instruction will be coming from the government. The government will be in control of the civil society, the PVO Bill wants to take the space and powers to weaken the organisations. So the Bill must be rejected as it will take away the independence of organisations,” said Tiringindi.
The Coordinator for Real Agenda for Youth Transformation (RAFYT) Tinashe Chirape urged citizens to challenge the PVO bill.
“The bill needs to be contested before it is gazetted rather than later. Its constitutionalism must be challenged and nullified. Political rights of the people and the welfare of the young people we work with will be affected. We are looking forward to a war zone with the government as we know that once it is passed the government will be scrutinizing us closely and censoring us. We are against the provisions of the Bill and principles that violate constitutionalism in terms of human rights. Many organisations will face closure and others will be threatened,” said Chirape.
Recently civil society organisations made submissions to the parliament rejecting the PVO Amendment Bill.
This article was produced with financial support of the Content Creators Network ZW.