BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday reaffirmed his government’s resolve to abolish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) it deems “subversive” and “abusive” to citizens, while pretending to provide food aid.
Mnangagwa said this while addressing Zanu PF supporters at the National Heroes Acre during the 42nd Heroes Day commemorations.
“Inspired by the resilient spirit of yesteryear heroes, let us continually strive to produce all the food we eat to guarantee our dignity as an independent people,” he said.
“No Zimbabwean should be subjected to abuse and ridicule by subversive NGOs on the pretext of food aid. The policy of taking development and services to the people shall remain the hallmark of my administration.
“Sector by sector, ward by ward, district by district, the second republic is implementing policies that are lifting our people out of poverty and into prosperity.”
Government is currently busy trying to fast-track the gazetting of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill that aims to regulate the operations of civic groups, NGOs and trusts.
The Bill, which has passed through the Committee Reading Stage in the National Assembly, has been widely criticised as being oppressive and unconstitutional because its provisions seek to abolish operations of civic society organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe.
The provisions will give powers to the Public Service minister to register or de-register CSOs.
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Government, however, says the Bill will curb money-laundering, terrorism financing and ensure that NGOs disclose their sources of funding, but NGOs feel that it is aimed at shutting down civic society groups that have been vocal on human rights, transparency and accountability issues.
Rights defenders have also warned that if the PVOs Amendment Bill sails through Parliament and assents into law, it might drive away humanitarian agencies from the country and negatively impact on food security.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network and the World Food Programme have already warned of drought-induced hunger attributed to the poor rains in the 2020-21 agricultural seasons.
Zimbabwe has been listed among 20 countries deemed to be hunger hotspots following drought-induced poor harvests in the 2021-22 farming season.
In his Heroes Day speech, Mnangagwa also said his government would not be pressured to uphold democracy by “outsiders”, whom he said were not democratic.
Western countries have maintained their stance on the need for government to uphold human rights and the rule of law, with the Unites States renewing its sanctions against Harare for reneging on democracy.
“In line with my administration’s commitment to uphold the democracy bequeathed to us by our fallen heroes and heroines, Zimbabwe is unrelenting in its pursuit to entrench constitutionalism, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights,” Mnangagwa said.
“We cannot be taught democracy by those who denied us democracy. The heroes we honour fought for the democracy and the equal access to justice we are enjoying as a country.
“Let us, therefore, individually and collectively, protect it from all forms of abuse and desecration, more so, by those who never came to our help during the brutal oppressive years under white settler colonial regime. Albeit as a peace loving nation, Zimbabwe is a friend to all and an enemy to none.”