Mnangagwa Declines to Sign PVO Bill

by Adenike Adeodun

President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently refused to sign the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill, sparking speculation ahead of Zimbabwe’s polls. The bill passed the National Assembly and Senate, but officials didn’t gazette it before Parliament dissolved pre-elections.

According to a report by Newsday Zimbabwe, many observers believe Mnangagwa used this move as a strategic tool. Critics argue the PVOs Amendment Bill aimed to muzzle non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that might threaten Mnangagwa’s re-election. The sudden bill withdrawal right before the elections raised eyebrows.

Obert Masaraure of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition suggested Mnangagwa wanted to intimidate NGOs with this bill. “Many NGOs, scared of deregistration, changed their behavior even before the bill’s potential passage,” he said.

Now that Mnangagwa has secured his office, he’s focusing on economic challenges, according to Masaraure. Civil society acknowledges that donations, vital sources of foreign currency, play a significant role in supporting Zimbabwe’s economy.

However, opinions on the bill’s future vary. The legal think-tank Veritas criticized the PVOs Bill, describing it as “vague, poorly conceived, and in many ways, unconstitutional.” They recommend the new minister should discard it entirely.

Veritas also highlighted that the dissolution of Parliament caused the downfall of many bills, including the PVO’s Amendment Bill. “Parliament’s dissolution killed many bills,” they said. Others, like the Child Justice Bill and the Police Amendment Bill, passed in Parliament but never got gazetted.

Wilbert Mandinde, the acting director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, asked about the legal status of these bills. “All bills the 9th Parliament oversaw died on August 27, including the PVOs Bill. As the 10th Parliament convenes, the President will set the legislative agenda, and it seems this bill won’t feature,” he commented.

In conclusion, the uncertainty surrounding the PVOs Bill, whether due to tactical maneuvers or genuine concerns, leaves NGOs in limbo. As Zimbabwe advances, the future of NGOs is a hot topic, and everyone is keenly observing Mnangagwa’s upcoming moves.

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