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NGOs panic as PVO Bill sails through Parliament 

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By Staff Reporter


NON-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in Zimbabwe are panicking following the passing of  the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill in Parliament Friday.

If approved, the controversial Bill will amend the Private Voluntary Organisations Act.

This will give the State unfettered powers to snoop into operations of civic society organisations (CSOs), trusts and other humanitarian organisations.

The Bill is now awaiting Senate approval next Tuesday before Presidential assent.

Various NGOs told Newzimbabwe.com that chaos was imminent, including massive employment loss that will leave most families stranded.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) director, Peter Mutasa their prayer is that President Emmerson Mnangagwa will not approve the Bill.

CiZC is a conglomerate of more than 80 CSOs.

“It is a sad development, quite shameful, that Zimbabwe, a country which got independence through a bitter struggle where everyone fought  courageously for freedom and democracy and sacrificed a lot, has gone down and joined in the hall of shame as apartheid South Africa and colonial Rhodesia, taking away citizens rights and freedoms,” he said, commenting on parliamentarians’ approval of the Bill.

Mutasa added, “This is the lowest any modern state can get to. Especially a state that was born through struggle for freedom, independence and democracy. We never expected that we could sink this law.

“We are also worried that even Mugabe, in his brutality, did not descend to this type of law. We are waiting to see if President Mnangagwa will tell the world that he is worse than Mugabe.”

He said if confirmed, this will prove that Zimbabwe has moved into fully fledged military dictatorship.

“That is not good for international re-engagement, internal stability and development. That is not good for economic recovery, no serious investor would come to a country where there is no freedom, where citizens cannot associate freely,” said.

“We are also gravely worried about the possible banning of CSOs, community based organisations and other NGOs, because the government is failing to provide adequate, affordable health care including quality education, and the gap has been filled by NGOs. Even people who are poor are all catered for by NGOs.”

Mutasa said the Bill will scare away everyone  who has been helping the country, plugging the gap between what the government was providing and what the government was failing to provide.

“This is going to affect people who were benefitting from  the various work of CSOs and NGOs. We are worried that government is not even concerned, the last survey  that was done showed 18 000 were likely to lose jobs from NGOs.

“This is why we believe the president should think twice like what Mugabae did. He refused to sign despite the fact that Parliament had approved.

Community working Group on Health (CWGH) director Itai Rusike concurred.

“NGOs in Zimbabwe compliment government efforts in development programs such as health, education, water and sanitation, humanitarian and food relief.

“Instead of restricting the operations of NGOs, government should give special encouragement to NGO activities in national priority areas without undermining NGOs autonomy and independence.”

Independent Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa said “Zimbabwe has enough laws to be able to arrest those people who break the law, not to go and change the PVO Bill.”

CSOs and other western countries feel the Bill was created to muzzle freedom of some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have been accused of meddling in politics by the government.