Veritas: PVO Bill adds to the unconstitutionality of the Act

Veritas: PVO Bill adds to the unconstitutionality of the Act
Veritas: PVO Bill adds to the unconstitutionality of the Act

Legal watchdog Veritas Zimbabwe says the recently gazetted PVO Amendment Bill is only serving to add to the unconstitutionality of the PVO Act.

The PVO Bill is seeking among other things to amend the PVO Act.

However, some of the amendments that are being proposed are deemed to be offside.

In its Bill Watch series, Veritas Zimbabwe said the Bill was badly put together and is shrouded in vagueness among other things.

‘’Overall, the Bill is badly conceived and badly put together. In Bill Watch 72/2021 we pointed out that the PVO Act is unconstitutional in several respects, and this Bill will only add to its unconstitutionality.

‘’Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the Bill is its vagueness.  Its provisions are not clearly drafted and while this frequently results in incoherence, as we have noted, it will also encourage government officials to place an unduly repressive interpretation on the Bill’s vague and broadly drawn provisions.

‘’Clause 5 of the Bill is the prime example of this: it seems to prohibit PVOs from supporting or opposing political parties or candidates in an election. But it is not entirely clear that it does so nor, if it does, what sort of support or opposition is prohibited.

‘’If the clause is enacted the government will almost certainly use it to prevent PVOs from expressing any form of support for any political party; perhaps they will use it to prevent PVOs from supporting particular policies put forward by a political party; perhaps even to prevent them from engaging in civic education or election observation or similar activities. Whatever interpretation is put on the clause, it could certainly be abused,’’ read the statement from Veritas.

Zimbabwe should emulate other countries

According to the legal watchdog, Zimbabwe should emulate what other countries have done in dealing with PVOs.

Veritas added that limiting the activities of the PVOs will stifle democracy and development.

‘’We in this country could emulate the success of the United States within our African sphere. If only we encourage societies – PVOs – of all kinds to multiply and do their work.

‘’If we try to limit their activities and subject them to stultifying government control, we shall stifle not only democracy but also our economic development. That is what this Bill, if enacted, will do.’’

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