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Crackdown on NGOs derails re-engagement efforts

Letters
Constitution of Zimbabwe

AS a socio-economic justice cohort, we are concerned by the effects of this Bill (if passed) on the lives of citizens.

Key to note, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are doing important work in democracy and human rights protection, humanitarian/ disaster response, gender and disability mainstreaming, water and sanitation, HIV programming and many other sectors.

Socio-economic indicators for these sectors have improved significantly due to the assistance of NGOs given to State actors and will fare worse if these partners are deregistered or curtailed in any way.

To note, the Health and Child Care ministry, with the support of development partners and NGOs, has managed to achieve an 80% decline in annual HIV-related deaths due to support of up to US$2 billion over the last two decades.

If NGOs and community-based organisations (CBOs) benefiting from these funds are affected, surely our 90-90-90 targets will not be achieved.

In the same vein, through the support of various donors and partners, water and sanitation projects across the country have achieved significant strides.

One can note the recent solar-powered piped water scheme launched in Beitbridge at Chikwalakwala Clinic.

This scheme will provide clean water for 2 453 beneficiaries, carrying benefits to their sanitation and health outcomes.

Where citizens had to walk long distances to access potable water, they can now get it close by.

Furthermore, the substance of the Bill has changed since it was gazetted and this occurred without public consultation, a key transparency mechanism.

Musa Kika of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum laments: “We are particularly concerned that the amendments have been introduced without public consultations. This has been done in violation of section 141 of the Constitution which mandates Parliament to invoke public participation in its legislative processes through a process of consultation with interested stakeholders.’’

Transparency and accountability remain key hallmarks of democracy and the effort to push these amendments contrary to these principles is discouraging and defeating processes of reform that are key to economic turnaround and efforts such as international re-engagement.

Recommendations

Following the above concerns, government has a responsibility to heed the calls of civil society which are to not ascent the bill as it reads now as it will have deleterious effects on development indicators and the efforts of civil society.

We, therefore, recommend the following:

We are particularly concerned that the amendments have been introduced without public consultations. This has been done in violation of section 141 of the Constitution, which mandates Parliament to invoke public participation in its legislative processes through a process of consultation with interested stakeholders.

Transparency and accountability remain key hallmarks of democracy and the effort to push these amendments contrary to these principles is discouraging and defeating processes of reform that are key to economic turnaround and efforts such as international re-engagement.

Legislators should protect the social contract with citizens and seek to expand rather than shrink democratic space by hindering the efforts of non-profits.

The PVOs Bill amendments lack public consultations and public hearings.

Stakeholders have the right to input their views and concerns. If it is to stand, the processes of public consultation should be conducted extensively.

The Bill restricts democratic space. Freedoms of association and assembly should be upheld and guaranteed for communities including NGOs, civil society organisations and CBOs.

The operating environment for NGOs should be liberal and civil society should have the right to participate in governance processes and to hold the government account as the system of checks and balances allows.

Legislators and the Executive should take note of the work being done by NGOs and seek to support especially noting humanitarian players.

They should not hamper the assistance that the vulnerable and marginalised communities receive by allowing the PVOs Amendment Bill to pass as it reads now.

Unjustified action against NGOs defeats re-engagement efforts with the international community which are key to economic recovery.

This is because re-engagement efforts are premised on democratic indicators which will be affected by continuing shrinking of civic space. - Zimcodd

Measles outbreak needs urgent attention

ZIMBABWE is currently responding to a measles outbreak, food insecurity, as well as the ongoing COVID-19.

Measles cases had increased to 4 495 cases, and more than 483 deaths due to measles had been reported by August 31, 2022.

The age group with most complications is the 6-59 months, while the most affected age group is the 5-14 years with challenges of spread during school openings.

The outbreak continues to grow progressively with more than 35 districts with IgM positive cases (IgM is usually the first antibody produced by the immune system when a virus attacks).

Between January and July 2022, 201 963 (100 050 girls; 101 913 boys) received the first dose of Measles Rubella 1 against a cumulative annual target of 504 900 (40%).

A total of 8 449 (4 752 girls and 3 697 boys) children against a national target of 12 685 children aged 6 to 59 months were admitted for treatment of wasting nationally with a 73,9% cure rate (70% for girls and 78% for boys).

In water, sanitation, hygiene programmes, 60 258 people (28 768 males; 31,169 females; 321 people living with disability [PLWD]) were provided with enough safe water for drinking and domestic needs during the reporting period, cumulatively reaching a total of 230 839 people (109 449 males;120 693 females; 697 PLWD).

In Education, a total of 426 626 learners (219 524 females; 7 207 302 males) benefited from 150 000 copies of the printed learning modules in Maths, English and Science.

As of August 31, 57 425 (69 % female) women, girls and boys out of the target of 100 000 had been supported to access gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention, or responses interventions; while 18 486 households in the districts of Beitbridge, Binga, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Lupane and parts of Harare had accessed emergency social cash transfers. - Unicef

There are true, well-meaning migrant labourers out there

THERE is an erroneous impression that migrant workers typically become permanent financial/resource burdens.

Many are rightfully desperate human beings, perhaps enough so to work very hard for basic food and shelter.

I have found that such labourers work very hard and should be treated humanely, including timely access to COVID-19 vaccination and proper work-related protections, which often enough they are denied.

I have noticed over the decades that the strong work ethic practised by these workers is exceptional, particularly in the produce harvesting sector.

It is hump-busting hard work that almost all second or third (and so forth) generation Westerners won’t tolerate for themselves, myself included.

Every time I observe them, I feel a bit guilty, since considering it from purely a human(e) level, I see not why they should have to toil so for minimal pay and not also I?

I can truly imagine such labourers being 50% to 100% more productive than their born-and-reared-here counterparts.

To be clear, I am not implying that a strong work ethic is a trait racially genetically inherited by one generation from a preceding generation, etcetera.

Rather, it’s an admirable culturally determined factor, though also in large part motivated by the said culture’s internal and surrounding economic and political conditions. 

Also, I don’t support domestic businesses exporting labour abroad at very low wages, especially if there are unemployed nationals who want that work, something I feel is an unethical yet government-sanctioned business practice.

Still, I too often hear similar complaints that are actually based on thinly veiled bigotry.

As for migrant workers, I believe that once they have resided here for a number of decades, their strong work ethics and higher-than-average productivity, unfortunately, gradually diminishes as these motivated labourers’ descendant generations’ young people become accustomed to the relatively slackened Western way of life. 

One can already witness this effect in such youth getting caught up in much of our overall urban/suburban liberal culture — e.g, attire, lingo, nightlife, as well as work.

I have also found that Western “values” of assimilation often means the unfortunate acquisition of a distasteful yet strong sense of entitlement. - Frank Sterle Jr

 

 

 

 

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