NGOs Challenge Government Ban

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By Mary Taruvinga

NON Governmental Organisations (NGOs) forced to shut down last week by the government for having failed to submit their work plan have approached the High court challenging the decision.

In an urgent chamber application filed on August 3, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and  Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Trust, a mother board of NGOs said the directive was unconstitutional.

Last Thursday, Harare Provincial Development Coordinator, Tafadzwa Muguti ordered that all NGOs which had defied his June 30 2021 directive shut immediately.

Only 40 had complied with his orders.

The NGO s want the directive declared unlawful, null and void.

They said there is no law giving him authority to control them.

“As a result, his press statement and directives are a nullity and of no force and effect and liable to be set aside. The press statement is in clear breach of the Provincial councils and Administration Act and the Private Voluntary Organisations Act. More significantly, the press statement abrogates the rights of applicants provided in section 57, 68, and 69 of the Constitution.”

Cited as respondents are Muguti, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Harare Metropolitan Province, Local government minister, Home affairs minister, Public Service minister.

The High court has been told that  there is reasonable apprehension by applicants that their work and activities and that of other NGOs will be disrupted, suspended, interfered with or halted by the law enforcement agents employed by the police as per the press statement.

“The involvement of law enforcement by Muguti  for an alleged breach of a policy which has no criminal sanctions is unjustified. The applicants are reasonably alarmed by the unjustified attempt to invade their privacy by the request of information contrary to section 57 of the Constitution, “they wrote.

They submitted that Muguti’s statement caused uncertainty in their operations in general adding that the matter requires urgent intervention of the court to stop the arbitrarily exercise of administrative powers by an appointed official.

They sought a relief  that a declaration by Muguti be set aside and that all respondents and anyone acting on their behalf be interdicted from disrupting , suspending, canceling or in any way interfering with their operations.

The case is yet to be heard.