Letters to the editor: PVOs Bill must be shot down

0
359
Parliament of Zimbabwe

ZIMBABWE is already regarded as an insecure destination for donor funding. Many donors will not bring funds to Zimbabwe if government goes ahead with the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Bill.

Government rhetoric suggests a donor-led regime change agenda is brewing and thus, government has generally been hostile to donor organisations.

However, there is no evidence to support that all these donors are interested in regime change.

There are many well-meaning donor countries and organisations that have continued to work in Zimbabwe despite the uncertainties to do with currency stability, unclear laws and heightened partisan-based polarisation.

The proposed law will bring forth a new wave of donor flight and this will further weaken the national development agenda of opening Zimbabwe for national, regional, and international business.

The non-State or civil society organisation space is a significant source of free funds.

According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, in 2021 alone, free funds channelled into the Zimbabwean economy by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were US$975,16 million.

There is likely going to be a significant decline of these free funds if the Bill is passed.

The NGO sector is increasingly growing into a major source of employment for many graduates from universities and other tertiary institutions. This will be negatively affected if NGOs face closure due to the change in law.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) are globally recognised for credible innovations and leadership development.

Locally, innovations such as Pfumbvudza and rainwater harvesting were first developed and piloted by NGOs before government adopted them.

Traditional systems such as “Zunde raMambo/isiphala seNkosi” have been further refined by NGOs to create community resilience.

The two were agrarian measures adopted by civil society to enhance food security in impoverished communities.

It cannot be overstated that the proposed Bill will poison the operating environment for civil society-based organisations.

There is need to go back to the drawing board and consult widely on best practice from practitioners, beneficiary communities and best practices from other countries.

Government must consider viable options which will be less destructive to CSOs’ operations.- SIVIO Institute


Please look into Lupane Local Board

CLERK of Parliament

Attention: Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government Construction and National Housing

Dear Sir/Madam

RE: Lupane Local Board management not transparent on numerous issues

The Lupane Local Board (LLB) administration came into existence in 2009. Caretakers and commissioners have come and gone, so have town secretaries.

The following is a truncated narrative, otherwise the story is too lengthy. Management does not consult with the residents:-

  1. Six years or so ago, management convened a meeting and entered into an “agreement” with the villagers surrounding the town.

The latter had asked that their livestock be allowed passage to the river through the town. Now, the fact that management failed to consult the residents on the issue means that there was no transparency and accountability.

Furthermore, there are by-laws (2013) prohibiting the encroachment of stray livestock into Lupane town area of jurisdiction deriving from the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29:15) Schedule Three.

As stated above, what has ensued over the years is too long a story requiring ample time to highlight, suffice to say that the villagers have now disregarded the so-called agreement and are now bringing their animals to graze in people’s resulting in urban residents failing to grow vegetables or mould bricks for fear that these will be destroyed by livestock.

When residents complain, the rural cattle herders insult them. The animals cause ecological pollution and degradation (Section 783, Constitution of Zimbabwe) and the cost of rehabilitation will be borne by the ratepayers and stakeholders in the long-term.

Furthermore, not only did the management fail to consult with the residents, they also committed a gross act of oversight in by-passing their counterpart, the management of Kusile Rural District Council.

Therefore, the so-called agreement is null and void and must be withdrawn.

  1. LLB management does not consult the residents as to how they use Zimbabwe National Road Administration and devolution funds. They do so only after they have made decisions by themselves.
  2. Government is compounding the situation by not appointing caretakers as per section 6 of the Urban Councils Act as read together with section 265(2) of the Constitution.

Caretakers must be appointed from the locals as opposed to the appointment of commissioners (Sec 80 of the Urban Councils Act).

Can you believe it, Sir/Madam, that since 2017, the LLB as the local authority has had only one caretaker instead of five caretakers because there are five heads of departments.

I am a former caretaker myself and I was chairing the finance and development committee.

In 2018 the incumbent town secretary, the treasurer and the acting engineer, were arrested and charged with flouting tender rules.

They are back at work because their lawyers applied for trial de novo (fresh trail). This was as a result of there being no caretakers.

Due to the absence of caretakers, there is no interfacing between the local authority and the residents. There is no link or linkage. The chairperson has lost appetite for her office.

The roads in the residential areas have been impassable for six months now, yet the engineer is quiet, the chairperson is quiet.

I, therefore, implore your committee to visit the town to hear the resident’s side of the story.

I thank you in anticipation and God bless!

Yours

Martin Stobart, Administration secretary and information secretary for Lupane Residents Chapter