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CSOs meet ED over PVOs Bill

Local News
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

CIVIL Society Organisations (CSOs) on Friday met President Emmerson Mnangagwa in a last-minute bid to lobby him to stop signing the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill into law.

The Bill is currently undergoing proofreading at the Attorney-General’s (AG) office after Parliament endorsed it.

Information secretary Ndavaningi Nick Mangwana confirmed that CSOs met Mnangagwa to discuss the Bill which has been viewed as oppressive as it criminalises their work.

“Late this afternoon HE President Emmerson Mnangagwa met and engaged with representatives of CSOs in Zimbabwe at State House. The subject of the engagement was the PVOs Bill which is currently being tidied up by the AG. The meeting was cordial and good-natured,” Mangwana tweeted.

Should Mnangagwa pass it into law, it would provide government with wide-ranging powers to control civil society organisations’ governance and activities, and even deregister those percieved as rogue or susceptible to money laundering and funding terrorism.  

Under the amended Bill, PVOs will now need government’s permission to make changes to their internal management and funding. 

Additionally, the new law will include harsh penalties like imprisonment for administrative offences related to funding or engaging in political activities.

Some of the delegates at the meeting with Mnangagwa included Jenni Williams (Women Arise Zimbabwe), Isaac Maphosa, and Musa Kika (Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum). The trio refused to disclose the outcome of their meeting.

Representatives from Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition were excluded from the meeting.

Attorney-General Prince Machaya told NewsDay that drafters were currently going through the Bill for thorough scrutiny and proofreading.

Machaya said he was not aware when the process would be concluded.

The United Nations and the United States have appealed to Mnangagwa to stop signing the Bill.

Early this month, US State Department deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs Robert Scott during his visit to the country said the Bill, if signed into law in its current state, would shrink political space in Zimbabwe.

Despite immense criticism, Mnangagwa has vowed to sign the law once it lands in his office.

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