Mnangagwa sends draconian PVO Bill back to Parliament amid pressure

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa has sent back the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill to Parliament for editing seemingly due to an outcry from observers over the draconian contents of the bill.

 

The controversial bill which has been in Mnangagwa’s office for months waiting for presidential assent, was widely criticised by civil society organisations (CSOs) for exposing the intention of the Zimbabwean government “to provide itself with legal tools to control and ultimately silence civil society.”

 

Specifically, CSOs raised a red flag on Clause 3 of the proposed amendments that seeks to repeal Part II of the PVO Act, removing the PVO Board and “vesting all decision-making powers unilaterally in the Registrar”.

 

The draconian amendment would transform the Registrar from an administrative official into an executive one, with extensive powers to receive, consider, determine, grant or reject applications for PVO registration.

 

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Tsitsi Gezi, confirmed that the bill has been brought back to the National Assembly.

“I wish to inform the House that on 31st August, 2023, I received the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [H.B. 10, 2021] from His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe with reservations.

 

“In terms of Section 147 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the Ninth Parliament,” she said.

 

“I have therefore directed the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to gazette a revised version of the Bill taking into account the reservations noted by His Excellency the President. The Bill will therefore follow the normal stages of a Bill in Parliament.”

 

Debating in the Senate last week, a Zanu PF Senator said: “During the recent elections, we witnessed some of the activities of certain NGOs and PVOs. As a country, we cannot accommodate those actions of theirs which are bent on sowing seeds of disunity within our country. They need to be regulated.

 

“We remain strongly anchored as a country to the values and ethos of the liberation struggle and we cannot just allow outsiders to come through the backdoor using PVOs.”