Mnangagwa Introduces Controversial PVO Amendment Bill To Silence Civil Society
23 April 2024
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By A Correspondent

The civil society in Zimbabwe is once again under siege as the government unveils a new draft law aimed at regulating Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and curbing their activities.

The proposed Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Amendment Bill 2024 has raised significant concerns among human rights groups and activists.

In a statement issued by Amnesty International Zimbabwe, the organization expressed alarm over the government’s intentions behind the bill.

According to the statement, the new legislation is purportedly designed to combat money-laundering and terrorism financing, but it also includes provisions targeting political activities by NGOs.

The bill aims to restrict NGOs from engaging in political lobbying, effectively constraining their advocacy efforts.

Amnesty International Zimbabwe, emphasized the potentially chilling effect of the bill on civil society operations.

“The PVO Amendment Bill 2024 poses a serious threat to civic space and undermines the essential role of NGOs in advocating for human rights and social justice,” Amnesty International Zimbabwe said in a statement.

This development follows President Mnangagwa’s previous rejection of the PVO Amendment Bill in 2021, which ultimately lapsed in August 2023.

There were hopes that the concerns raised by civil society organizations during that period would be addressed in the new draft.

However, activists are dismayed to find that many of the proposed changes have not been incorporated into the latest version of the bill.

“The fact that the new bill largely disregards the submissions made by civil society in 2023 is deeply concerning.

Added Amnesty International Zimbabwe :

“The provisions of this bill could severely restrict the ability of NGOs to operate independently and impact their ability to carry out essential work in Zimbabwe.”

The government’s move has ignited condemnation from various quarters, with calls for transparency and meaningful consultation on the bill’s implications.

Civil society leaders are urging policymakers to reconsider the proposed amendments and engage in constructive dialogue with stakeholders to address legitimate concerns.

As the debate over the PVO Amendment Bill 2024 unfolds, the fate of Zimbabwe’s civil society hangs in the balance.

The outcome of this legislative process will have far-reaching implications for the country’s democratic governance and the protection of human rights.