BY Veneranda Langa
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday fired warning shots against “errant” non-governmental organisations (NGO) and disclosed that government would soon craft a law to whip them into line.
In a virtual State of the Nation Address hosted at State House, Mnangagwa claimed that most NGOs in the country were operating outside their mandate and out of sync with government policies.
He said Parliament would soon consider the Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill to revamp the administration of NGOs and private voluntary organisations “to correct the current anomalies”.
“The conduct of some NGOs and PVOs who operate outside their mandates and out of sync with the government’s humanitarian priority programmes, remain a cause for concern,” Mnangagwa said.
“This august House will, therefore, consider the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill to revamp the administration of NGOs and PVOs and correct the current anomalies.”
The Zanu PF administration has often accused NGOs, particularly those in the human rights sectors of pursuing a regime change agenda.
Mnangagwa also said he was aware of teachers’ grievances, adding that the matter would be addressed through various platforms.
“Government takes note of the legitimate calls for better working conditions by our teachers, health workers and the public service in general. We will do our best to ameliorate their concerns and improve their plight,” Mnangagwa said.
He then saluted security forces for working tirelessly to defend the country’s territorial integrity in the face of relentless attacks by government’s detractors.
“Our defence and security forces who are defending the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and national interest as well as maintaining law, peace and order in our great country are commended for their sterling work,” Mnangagwa said. “I want to reiterate that my government will not tolerate any form of criminality in our country. Those who dare to engage in unlawful activities will face the full wrath of the law.”
The uniformed forces have been criticised for human rights abuses and heavy-handedness on opposition and human rights activists as well as protesters seeking to register their displeasure against government inadequacies.
He thanked Zimbabweans for “discipline” and “resilience” during times of economic shocks caused by climatic conditions, sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his speech on the official opening of the Third Session of the Ninth Parliament, Mnangagwa outlined an ambitious legislative agenda which will see around 33 Bills being crafted in Parliament, including amendments to existing laws.
To promote the ease of doing business in the country, Mnangagwa said an Economic Empowerment Bill will be brought before Parliament to replace the Indigenisation Act.
Other new laws that will be crafted will include the Youth Bill and media laws that will include the Production of Personal Information Bill, the Citizenship and Immigration Amendment Bill, the Provincial Councils Amendment Bill, and several amendments to already existing laws.
During the just-ended Second Session of the Ninth Parliament, Mnangagwa said Parliament had 25 Bills on its legislative agenda and an additional 15 others which were not on the initial agenda which were brought before the House.
“As at September 22 2020, a total of 10 of these Bills were passed by Parliament,” he said.
Zanu PF MPs and their counterparts from the Thokozani-led MDC-T attended the function, but MDC Alliance legislators snubbed the event.
Senator Morgen Komichi (MDC-T) hailed Mnangagwa’s speech.
“As Zimbabweans we need to have a way to deal with sanctions and go deeper and provide solutions for them. We must look at what is causing the sanctions. As Zimbabweans we must unite because this is our country and resolve our problems internally.
“As the MDC-T, we are going to play a critical role to ensure we deal with the challenges facing Zimbabweans. We are going to debate on the issues raised by the President in his speech,” Komichi said. Zanu PF proportional representation MP Tatenda Mavetera said: “For us youthful legislators, we are happy that the Youth Bill will be brought before Parliament for crafting as it will compel implementation of issues that affect the youth. We are also happy about the Sport and Recreation Bill which is specific to the youth.”
Shurugwi South MP Edmond Mkaratigwa (Zanu PF) said: “We are happy that the much-awaited Mines and Minerals Bill will be brought before Parliament.”