President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration says non-governmental organisations must stop crying foul over the controversial Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill and can relocate to war-torn Ukraine if they are not happy with the proposed law.
PVO basically threatens to shut down most NGO operations.
Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavima said NGOs would be de-registered as the government no longer saw their relevance due to their “involvement in politics”.
He was speaking during a devolution meeting in Gweru at the weekend.
He told local authorities to de-register non-compliant NGOs.
The PVO Amendment Bill, which will amend the PVO Act, is currently being debated in Parliament and is viewed as oppressive as it will criminalise the work of NGOs and give the Public Service minister powers to regulate their operations. It will also require them to disclose their sources of funding.
“How long should we continue relying on other people? The country is built by its own people. As much as possible we are now able to do a lot of things without NGOs. There was a time when NGOs were necessary. But we have to get out of this mentality. I was serious when I said if there are NGOs which feel that they have something; let them go to Ukraine where there are people in need of their services because there is war. Here we are a peaceful country. No one is bombing us,” Mavima said.
But NGOs immediately hit back at him, with Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum director Musa Kika saying government would not function without NGOs.
“The government is being short-sighted and is choosing perceived political expediency over livelihoods, economic well-being, strengthened governance and all that civil society represents. We have no precedent anywhere in the world where the government operates successfully without civil society, bearing in mind that civil society are the people, citizens self-organising over issues of community and national importance. There is no sustainability in what the government is doing, so the comments attributed to the minister (Mavima) are unfortunate,” Kika said.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) spokesperson Obert Masaraure said: “I think Mavima is highly misguided. It’s unfortunate that Zimbabwe has such people as leaders who say a country doesn’t need NGOs; a country with more than 7,9 million people living in poverty doesn’t need NGOs? Even if you go to stable developed countries, they still have NGOs. He doesn’t appreciate the role of NGOs. What Mavima doesn’t pick is that there is a lot of humanitarian work that is being done by NGOs. They are feeding thousands of people who cannot afford to get a meal and are sending a lot of drop outs back to school.”