By Bustop TV
Regional human rights defenders body, Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network has raised fears that human rights activists in Zimbabwe will face a tough 2022 as a result of the PVO amendment bill.
The organisation said due to the bill’s repressiveness rights defenders will eventually be forced into exile while others will end up conducting underground operations for their safety.
If enacted into law the PVO bill will give government control over the operations of non- governmental organisations (NGOs). PVOs will cease to play their watchdog role over the local human rights situation creating room for violations.
In gazetting the draconian bill, Mnangagwa accused NGOs and private voluntary organisations (PVOs) operating in the country of deviating from their humanitarian agenda and participating in partisan politics.
Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network is a membership organisation that is composed of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from across the Southern Africa Region including Zimbabwe.
The organisation’s team leader, Washington Katema said with a law that silences government critics, Zimbabwe will become an authoritarian state.
He said: “In Zimbabwe, our fears are that the government will continue on its ultra-authoritarian turn which started with a military coup in November 2017 and gained momentum after the July 2018 coup-proofing “election without choice” because to all intents and purposes, the election outcome was predetermined.
Katema added that once the bill is signed into law, the country’s democratic space will shrink.
“In this scenario, the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill and the Patriotic Act will be signed into law. The online and offline civic, democratic and civil society space will continue to shrink. The opposition and human rights activists, including frontline human rights defenders might be forced to go underground, and some driven into exile.”
This article was produced with financial support of the Content Creators Network ZW.