Parliamentarians urged to lead awareness campaigns

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Parliamentarians

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Legislators have been urged to lead awareness campaigns on proposed Bills in urban and rural areas before public hearings to ensure citizens’ full participation.

Chairperson of the Public Service and Labour Committee, Emma Ncube made the call while presenting a report on the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill on Wednesday. She also called on Parliament to ensure Bills are presented in the country’s 16 official languages.

The PVO Amendment Bill, which seeks to regulate the operations of civic groups, is now at the Second Reading Stage in the National
Assembly.

“…that government Ministries in collaboration with Parliament translate all Bills and Acts into the sixteen languages stipulated in Section 6 of the constitution to facilitate understanding and effective participation by all stakeholders in the lawmaking process by December 2022,” Ncube said.

“Parliament in collaboration with other stakeholders intensify educational and publicity campaigns on Bills, public hearings and other programmes in both urban and rural area.”

“The Administration of Parliament must make sure all public hearings venues are paid for in advance in order to avoid inconveniences.”

Some public hearings have been marred by apathy due to lack of awareness campaigns.

CSOs have already red-flagged the proposed amendments to the PVO Act saying they will render around 280 000 people jobless because the Bill gives the State powers to de-register.

The Bill seeks to criminalise the work of NGOs and proposes harsh penalties, including a jail term for those found operating outside their mandate.

Contributing to the debate, Dzivarasekwa legislator Edwin Mushoriwa(MDC) said civic groups played a crucial role in the country since independence.

“If you then check, this country got independence in 1980 and you will realise that most of our freedom fighters got support from these civic societies and some of them were church run,” Mushoriwa said.

“It is wrong for a party that claims to be standing on the shoulders of revolutionary and liberation legacy to then try to cut the freedom that was bestowed by a hard and protracted Second Chimurenga War that ushered this country in 1980.”

But Zanu PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi said the PVO Bill was necessary.

“If you go to America today, as an NGO and you involve yourself in the politics of America, they will never allow you to operate. Go to any country, we have evidence everywhere, where NGOs have been used as regime change agents,” he said.

Hurungwe MP Goodluck Kwaramba said the Bill was too technical and must have been transcribed to local languages.

“I think all languages should have been used to enable people to understand what is being said. This will enable them to also participate from a knowledgeable point of view….”

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