CIVIL society organisations and opposition politicians have warned of a pending spike in attacks of human rights defenders after the controversial Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) bill sailed through the Senate last week
The bill now awaits President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s assent to become law.
After it sailed through the legislature, opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) vice president, Tendai Biti, said the country was slowly becoming undemocratic.
“We expect an unprecedented attack on human rights defenders and all organizations that stand for citizen rights,” said Biti on Twitter.
“That Zimbabwe post-2017 has descended into a fully-fledged fascist tin-pot cannot be in dispute.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson, Peter Mutasa slammed remarks by Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi who labelled PVOs as “snakes and enemies”.
“Your Senators regard some PVOs as snakes and enemies that must be crushed; this is sad and retrogressive,” said Mutasa.
“We are back to the colonial rule book where organizations fighting for freedom and justice are banned and their leaders and activists jailed. Zimbabwe needs freedom.”
Norton independent MP, Temba Mliswa said the PVO bill was shrouded with obscurity.
“The PVO Bill suffers from an acute lack of clarity which makes it amenable to obtuse and biased interpretations. In our political environment we understand how the law has become a weapon in itself,” said Mliswa.
“A vague law is even worse as it can be abused more. This is not the first time this piece of legislation has come around. It was brought to Mugabe in the 2005s and he refused to assent to it.
“Mugabe felt the NGO Bill was ‘too obnoxious’ and would portray the government in bad light in the eyes of the international community,” added Mliswa.
Obstinacy or vindictiveness, according to the Norton MP, can never be a sustainable way to govern a country.
Critics have raised red flags over the lack of clarity from government saying the law will likely be abused and misinterpreted to further stifle civic spaces.
Government has however, remained adamant that the legislation seeks to upgrade the financial accountability of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and monitor how funds are used.
The Mnangagwa administration also insists that the bill would stop people from using PVOs to launder money, fund terrorism and also to ensure that PVOs operate in the areas where they were registered. – Newzim