GOVERNMENT is violating Zimbabweans’ constitutional right to participate in the law-making processes. This is by looking at how the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment (PVO) Bill was crafted, states an analysis of the proposed committee stage amendments to the PVO Bill done by the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe.
The analysis was developed by Amnesty International (Zimbabwe), Legal Resources Foundation, Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (Sapst), Veritas, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
CSOs, in the analysis, called for the withdrawal of the bill, adding that the government should allow for further consultations with the public.
“Of note is that the amendments extensively revise the Bill, introducing new provisions that were not there when the Bill was taken for public hearings,” CSOs said.
“This violates the public’s constitutional right to participate in law-making, as the authorities have a constitutional obligation to consider the views of the public in terms of Section 141 of the Constitution.”
The CSOs further argued that the proposed amendments effectively amount to the introduction of a new Bill.
“They introduce extensive amendments to the PVO Act and to other pieces of legislation, which have not been to public consultation contrary to section 141 of the Constitution,” they said.
“The consultation processes that were conducted previously in relation to the original draft of the Bill appear to have been conducted in bad faith, as CSOs’ concerns have been entirely disregarded, with the proposed amendments introducing greater restrictions to the rights to freedom of association and administrative justice.”
The proposed Bill, the CSO said, will have dire consequences for civic space and access to humanitarian support services in Zimbabwe.
In the analysis, the CSOs further raised the red flag on the increased consolidation of power in the proposed registrar’s office arguing that they had called for self-regulation and independence of the sector.
The CSOs also flagged the new registration requirements with a clause introducing stricter and more immediate requirements for trusts, bodies, associations of persons corporate or unincorporated, and any other institutions that are not exempt under the Act from receiving financial donations contributions.
Other issues highlighted in the analysis include the imposition of harsh criminal and civil penalties for vaguely-defined offences, violation of fundamental tenets of administrative justice, extraterritorial agreements to monitor PVOs in other countries, and amendment of other Acts related to Money Laundering.
Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare minister Professor Paul Mavima early last month gazetted the 2021 PVO Amendment Bill on the National Assembly Order Paper with the amendments to be formally introduced in Parliament at the committee stage.