UN Rapporteurs castigate PVO Bill, ready to meet ED

UN Rapporteurs castigate PVO Bill, ready to meet ED
UN Rapporteurs castigate PVO Bill, ready to meet ED

UN Rapporteurs have poured cold water on President Emmerson Mnangagwa‘s plans to enact a more stringent PVO Bill, arguing that it violates several rights and freedoms.

Zimbabwe is in the process of amending the PVO Act and has already gazetted the PVO Amendment Bill which is expected to be introduced in the National Assembly when Parliament resumes its sitting next year in February.

The Bill was supposed to have been ready for the first time in the National Assembly many weeks ago after meeting the mandatory waiting period.

Bills other than Constitutional bills are required to wait at least 14 days after being gazetted for them to be read for the first time in either of the House (National Assembly or Senate)

However, the Minister sponsoring the Bill was surprisingly delayed in introducing the Bill, although the corresponding portfolio committee had published its itinerary for public consultations on the Bill.

The consultations were however shelved without any explanation before COVID-19 cases forced Parliament into early adjournment.

In a memo to President Mnangagwa, the UN Rapporteurs expressed their disapproval of the Bill, arguing that it was unwarranted.

‘’We would like to offer the following comments on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill 2021 (hereinafter the Amendment Bill). If adopted into law in its current version, this bill will have grave consequences for the exercise of civil and political rights, including the right to freedom of association, of private voluntary organisations (PVOs) in Zimbabwe.

‘’We welcome the opportunity to submit these comments in light of international human rights standards and best practices on the rights to freedom of association, and we stand ready to engage further with your Excellency’s government on this matter,’’ read the memo from the Rapporteurs.

The PVO Bill makes it to the growing list of stringent laws that the Second Republic is coming up with to allegedly shrink civic space ahead of the 2023 General elections.

Other Bills include the Constitution Amendment Act No.2, Data Protection Act, PVO Bill and the Patriotic Bill among others. Commentators argue that the laws are not necessary but are just coming to block CSOs from demanding accountability from the government as well restricting room for the opposition ahead of the elections