Youths worry over shrinking civic society space

BY STAFF REPORTER

THE National Association of Youth Organisations (Nayo) has expressed concern over the shrinking civic space in the country and urged the government to urgently expedite the alignment to the Constitution of laws that encourage civil engagement.

Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Nayo programmes manager McDonald Munyoro said government must not seek to muzzle civic groups, but must be seen to be enhancing freedom of association and expression.

Nayo is the youth umbrella body for youth organisations working in Zimbabwe with a vision to see a repositioned, redefined and enhanced role of youth in community, national, regional and international developmental processes.

“Government, through Parliament, should amend the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO Act) which governs the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country and consider removing currently proposed amendments, which militate against the operations of NGOs — allow the NGOs to self-regulate,” Munyoro said.

“Government should uphold the Nairobi Outcome Document (agreed at the High Level Meeting (HLM2) in 2016) and Busan Partnership Agreement which recognises civil society as an independent development partner in its right; work within national policies and towards poverty reduction; and tackle inequality and the commitment made by governments to develop policy space and an enabling environment for the formation and operation of civil society organisations.”

He added that government must repeal the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act and replace this with a more pro-development and inclusive legislative framework for youth in the country as specified in Section 20 of the Constitution.

Among other demands, Nayo said the government must accelerate the repeal of both Aippa and Posa in line with the recent decision by Cabinet.

The organisation said it was worried by the continued crackdown on civil society groups in the country as witnessed by the recent unlawful suspension of COTRAD in Masvingo, the harassment of journalists and other human rights defenders, the majority of whom are youths.

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