Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa never intended to sign the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill, but used it as a means to intimidate civil society organizations before the August 23 and 24 elections.
Mnangagwa had referred the PVOs Bill back to Parliament just before the polls. The Bill had passed through the National Assembly and Senate but had not been signed and published in the Government Gazette, ultimately lapsing when Parliament was dissolved on the eve of the elections.
Representatives of NGOs have argued that the PVOs Amendment Bill was primarily designed to intimidate and suppress NGOs that were perceived as a threat to Mnangagwa’s reelection bid.
Obert Masaraure, spokesperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, stated that Mnangagwa’s threat to sign the PVOs Bill into law had already achieved its objectives of instilling fear and compliance among civil society organizations.
Legal think-tank Veritas criticized the Bill as vague, badly drafted, and potentially unconstitutional, and recommended that it be discarded. However, the President’s reservations about the Bill led to its referral back to Parliament, where it subsequently lapsed.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s acting director, Wilbert Mandinde, emphasized that any Bill under consideration by the 9th Parliament had lapsed on August 27. He clarified that there was no Bill for the 10th Parliament to consider, as the PVOs Bill had been deemed to have lapsed.
In summary, NGOs have accused President Mnangagwa of using the PVOs Amendment Bill as a tool to intimidate civil society organizations ahead of the elections, and they argue that the Bill should now be discarded or reevaluated due to its problematic provisions.