THE Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) says if the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill is passed in its current form, it will worsen poverty because the country's economy heavily depends on non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The Bill is viewed as oppressive by civic society groups as it contains clauses that are likely to ban their operations, and give government powers to register or deregister them.
The proposed law also gives the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister power to demand disclosure of funding of NGOs ahead of the 2023 polls.
In a recent report titled Civic Space Contestations Ahead of 2023, ZDI said if passed, the law would have severe consequences.
“The economy in Zimbabwe relies more on NGO support and the PVOs Amendment Bill and attendant closure of the civic space will have a reductive impact on this support in Zimbabwe. Closure of the civic space as a result of the PVOs Bill will lead to a sharp shrinkage in the contributions of non-profit organisations (NGOs) to the national economy, which will in turn intensify the economic hardships already felt by the citizens of Zimbabwe,” the report read.
“It should be noted that these NGOs, which the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeks to clampdown on, are the third biggest earners of foreign currency in the country after export proceeds and diaspora remittances. They bring more foreign currency than foreign investment. The total foreign currency receipts (US$ million) that came from NGOs increased by 50,5% from US$647,78 million in 2020 to US$975,16 million in 2021.”
ZDI said the Bill would increase unemployment rates and reduce government tax revenues.
“Another likely outcome is the reduction of NGOs’ contribution to the economy, which will be evident through reduced foreign currency earnings, increased unemployment and reduced government tax revenues. This is contrary to government efforts to revive the economy and reduce the economic hardships already suffered by citizens across the country. Overall, this demonstrates that the PVOs Bill is very injurious to the long-term goals of the Mnangagwa government and the interests of the citizens.”
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The ZDI report comes as the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has pleaded with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to engage government over the Bill.