BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/BLESSED MHLANGA
NON-GOVERNMENTAL Organisations (NGOs) that were recently ordered to stop their operations by the government over failure to submit their work have challenged the directive at the High Court, setting the stage for a bruising war with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Harare provincial development coordinator (PDC) Tafadzwa Muguti last Thursday ordered NGOs that defied his directive to submit work plans to stop operating.
Muguti last month ordered NGOs to submit work plans and intended activities to his office for clearance, but 40 heeded his request, forcing him to order that only those that complied be allowed to operate.
But in an urgent chamber application filed yesterday, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the directive was unconstitutional and should be declared null and void.
The suit which sucks in Harare Metropolitan Affairs minister Oliver Chidawu, Local Government minister July Moyo and Public Service minister Paul Mavima alleged that Muguti was acting outside his purview.
“Muguti does not state in his statement the law under which he makes the declaration that NGOs will be stopped from operating,” the NGOs submitted.
“By purporting to have regulatory authority or power over applicants and other NGOs, Muguti has acted without jurisdiction. As a result, his Press statement and directives are a nullity and of no force and effect and liable to be set aside.”
In the interdict filed by Mupanga, Bhatasara Attorneys, the NGOs alleged that Muguti violated the law in an attempt to invade the privacy of organisations that do not fall under his purview.
“The Press statement is in clear breach of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act and the Private Voluntary Organisations Act.”
They said Muguti’s order violated sections 57, 68 and 69 of the Constitution.
“Muguti’s statement caused uncertainty in their operations in general and that the matter requires urgent intervention of the court to stop the arbitrary exercise of administrative powers by an appointed official,” they submitted.
The NGOs asked the court to set aside Muguti’s declaration and that all respondents and anyone acting on their behalf be interdicted from disrupting, suspending, cancelling or in anyway interfering with their operations.
The matter is yet to be heard.
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