Latest News Editor's Choice

News / Local

Mnangagwa pressures Parly on PVOs Bill

by Staff reporter
17 Oct 2022 at 06:14hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has piled pressure on Parliament to fast-track the controversial Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill but opposition leaders have urged a rethink.

Opposition legislators and human rights activists say the proposed Bill is flawed and that it contains controversial clauses that should be subjected to scrutiny and debate.

Writing in his column in a weekly State-controlled paper, Mnangagwa said he was ready to sign the Bill into law because some civil society organisations and embassies continue to meddle in the country's affairs.

"I am ready to sign this Bill into law once Parliament has done its part. Those peddling or saddled with foreign interests and agendas have a lot to worry about, we will act on them once we establish they have betrayed their mandate. This includes banning and kicking them out of our country," Mnangagwa wrote.

"I have had to stress this point because we continue to get reports of a few hostile countries trying, through their embassies here, to persistently meddle in, and to manipulate our electoral processes."

Mnangagwa's assertions fit into the Zanu-PF narrative, which portrays NGOs as hostile entities that are pushing a regime change agenda in Zimbabwe.

If the new Bill is signed into law, critics say hundreds of NGOs in Zimbabwe may be forced to close shop.

Opposition legislators last Thursday launched a fresh attack on the Bill, labelling it a fascist piece of legislation that will condemn Zimbabwe to a repressive regime.

"We cannot surely sit as Parliament to legislate and curtail the rights of individuals and organisations.

This is 2022, not 1962 Southern Rhodesia. Four decades after independence, we cannot sit in this House to pass fascist laws," Harare East legislator Tendai Biti said in Parliament.

"The provisions have the net effect of allowing the government, and the authorities to literally take over the existence of an NGO. They allow the minister under certain circumstances, to change the board of an NGO. They allow an NGO's books of accounts literally to be frozen. They allow the NGO itself to be suspended under certain circumstances.

 "We have an obligation to protect the Constitution. Section 119(2) of the Constitution says this Parliament must protect and uphold the Constitution, particularly the bill of rights codified in chapter 4 of the Constitution but we are passing a Bill.

"So, what we are doing is that we are cutting our noses in order to spite our faces. This is a terrible Bill, a modern democratic Zimbabwe, 43 years after independence, cannot be passing such a Bill.

Biti urged Parliament to withdraw the Bill.

"It is not in the best interest of constitutionalism in Zimbabwe and we cannot pass a Bill to serve the interests of a political party that is paranoid. I appeal to the minister to withdraw this Bill," Biti added.

Harare North legislator Norman Markham said there was no point in debating the Bill when the minister responsible would  not listen to parliamentarians.

"NGOs are going to hold their money from where it comes until they need it desperately.

"I would like to reiterate, our medical facilities and our schools are sponsored primarily when it comes to things like medicines and textbooks by PVOs but we ignore that," Markham said.

The PVOs Amendment Bill has been widely criticised as oppressive and unconstitutional because its provisions seek to close down the democratic space by eliminating civil society organisations.

Zanu-PF has defended the Bill as necessary to whip NGOs and CSOs, that it accuses of pushing a regime change agenda, into line.

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe
More on: #Mnangagwa, #PVO, #Bill