UNITED Nations resident co-ordinator in Zimbabwe Edward Kallon has underscored the need for governments and civic society organisations (CSOs) to collaborate their efforts for the benefit of the communities they serve.

Addressing a mid-term Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for CSOs in Bulawayo yesterday, Kallon said CSOs were government’s best partners.

He said human rights were enshrined in the Constitution of every country, but the missing link was on how to support the governments.

“The civil society is not an enemy to the government. My appeal is that the more we appeal for dialogue and engagement, I am sure with that spirit, nothing is impossible,” Kallon said.

“Let me be frank, at the end of the day, friends, you are all brothers and sisters, and nothing is going to work in the country without the full participation of civil society and that is what we admire about civil society.”

He said governments and civic groups should have progressive relationships based on consultations and engagements, adding that civil society would work well if the spirit of engagement and protection existed.

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The authorities in Zimbabwe have always had an acrimonious relationship with CSOs, whom they accuse of fronting a regime change agenda.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is working on a piece of legislation, the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill which is viewed by critics as an affront to democracy.

The Bill will require non-governmental organisation, among others, to disclose their source of funds and gives the Justice minister powers to appoint board members for the civic groups.

Addressing the meeting, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum chairperson Tafadzwa Chikumbu said the review meeting was aimed at partnering and collaborating with the government in assessing the implementation of reforms as well as “to come up with a CSOs’ alternative or shadow report to the one that the government of Zimbabwe is expected to voluntarily present in terms of its mid-term report to the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council this year”.