Zimbabwe nationalists Herbert Chitepo, Ndabanindi Sithole, Edson sithole, Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe are turning in their graves over the proposed Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill because it is not in the best interests of Zimbabwe, opposition legislator Tendai Biti told Parliament.
Biti appealed to Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to withdraw the bill saying it only served the interests of a political party that was paranoid and not anyone else.
The bill seeks among other things to stop non-governmental organisations from engaging in political activities and wants them to disclose their sources of funding.
“This is a terrible Bill, a modern democratic Zimbabwe, 43 years after independence, cannot be passing such a Bill. Herbert Chitepo, Ndabaningi Sithole, are turning in their graves, Edson Sithole, wherever they buried him, is turning in his grave, Joshua Mquabuko Nkomo who died on 1st July, 1999, is turning in this grave, Robert Mugabe who died on the 6th September, 2019, is turning in his grave,” Biti said.
“Madam Speaker, we should abandon this Bill, it is not in the best interest of the people of Zimbabwe. It is not in the best interest of constitutionalism in Zimbabwe and we cannot pass a Bill to serve the interests of a political party that is paranoid. I appeal to the Hon. Minister to withdraw this Bill.”
HON. BITI: Madam Speaker, we cannot surely sit as Parliament to legislate and curtail the rights of individuals and organisations. Our Constitution gives rights to individuals, organisations and corporate bodies such as NGOs have got rights that are codified in Chapter Four (4) of the Constitution …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order, your microphone is off.
HON. BITI: So, to allow the Executive to treat non-governmental organisations and private organisations that they can run, that they can control their affairs, that they can control their board at their whim is archaic. This is 2022 not 1962 Southern Rhodesia. Four decades after independence, we cannot sit in this House to pass fascist laws – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Biti, may you approach the Chair.
Hon. Biti approached the Chair
HON. BITI: The provisions have the net effect of allowing the Government, the authorities to literally take over the existence of an NGO. They allow the Minister under certain circumstances, to change the board of an NGO. They allow an NGO’s books of accounts literally to be frozen. They allow the NGO itself to be suspended under certain circumstances.
We already have a judgment that came out in 1995; the judgment is called Sekai Holland vs Minister of Labour and Social Welfare. The then Minister of Labour and Social Welfare was the late Nathan Shamuyarira and may his soul rest in peace.
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