OPPOSITION Zapu leader Sibangilizwe Nkomo has rapped the Zanu-PF government for pushing for the enactment of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill that he described as retrogressively against liberation war values.
Parliament last year passed the PVO Bill but President Emmerson Mnangagwa referred the proposed law back to the august House before he signed it.
However, Nkomo said Zapu was concerned about the legislative developments in the country.
“The proposed Act seeks to regulate and control private voluntary organisations to comply with the Financial Action Task Force, a G7 construct that gained prominence during the war on terror by the US to reverse the very freedoms that we fought for as a party together with like-minded organisations, including trade unions and youth groups — the very foundations of Zapu,” Nkomo said.
Nkomo cited the likes of Benjamin Burombo and Masotsha Ndlovu who were at the centre of the founding of the early revolutionary movements such as National Democratic Party and Zapu.
“All these individuals including Zapu are products of PVO, also known as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or civil society organisations (CSOs).
“These are the organisations that the government, through elected Members of Parliament and Senators, are seeking to control and regulate in a way that is against all the founding values of our liberation and against the Bill of Rights, enshrined in our 2013 Constitution,” Nkomo said.
He said Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion minister Mthuli Ncube, in crafting the National Development Strategy (NDS1), placed human rights as the basis for Zimbabwe’s approach to achieving development and peace.
“In notes 848 and 855 of the NDS1 plan, he speaks of good governance and improving service delivery by the State and its organs to improve consumer satisfaction from 60% in 2020 to 70% by 2025. He promises to strengthen advocacy and awareness campaigns on consumer rights and protection,” Nkomo said.
“But it is common knowledge that local NGOs and CSOs which privately and voluntarily seek to complement government efforts through their programmes, are labelled enemies of the State, to the extent that a whole Act of Parliament is looming over their existence and independent operations.”
Nkomo said it should also be noted that NDS1 was seeking to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ratified by Zimbabwe, as part of the global family under the United Nations.
Nkomo said both Zapu and Zanu received support from Britain, United States, Canada, the European Union member States, the Warsaw Pact, the commonwealth countries, the African Union, and the Frontline States in furtherance of the UN committee of 24 objectives.
He said all the countries provided funds, scholarships, military training and materials and did not stop at independence, as they had continued working with the people of Zimbabwe to help to fulfil the goals of peace and development.
“It is very unfortunate that the Zanu-PF government seeks to protect its total disregard of human rights through various pieces of legislation like the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act of 2019, which repealed and replaced the draconian Public Order and Security Act of 2002. Another repressive law is the mooted Patriot Act which criminalises international solidarity for Zimbabwean CSOs and human rights defenders.
“These laws are the ones that were used before to strip ZPRA [Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army] and Zapu of their properties because the four clauses in which the minister is seeking power to close organisations, are the same caveats the colonial government used to ban NDP and Zapu, before jailing their leaders.
“The done-and-dusted PVO Bill, is the reincarnation of the Unlawful Organisation Act of 1960, by which NDP and Zapu were banned with ZPRA being designated a terrorist organisation.
“These provisions being the exact terms of reference used to ban Zapu and NDP, one wonders why former freedom fighters who claim to have liberated Zimbabwe, can rewrite history and re-introduce repressive colonial laws.”