Opposition MDC Alliance led by Mr Nelson Chamisa has frowned upon the recently gazetted Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill which seeks to ban Non-Governmental Organisations from political lobbying.
The party’s Secretary-General, Chalton Hwende, said the bill was targeted at the opposition party. He said:
Zimbabwe is now a fully-fledged Dictatorship. Laws are being created targeted at only the MDC Alliance and President @nelsonchamisa . NGOs to be barred from political lobbying.
Last week the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, gazetted the Bill that seeks to among other things penalise non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that dabble in politics.
The Bill seeks to amend section 10 of the principal by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (e) as follows —
(e1) when any private voluntary organisation that supports or opposes any political party or candidate in a presidential, parliamentary or local government election or is a party to any breach of section 7 under Part III of the Political Parties (Finance) Act [Chapter 2:12] as a contributor of funds to a political party or candidate or otherwise shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of level twelve or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or both such fine or such imprisonment.
Ahead of the 2023 polls, the United States of America, through USAID, had set aside US$5 million to fund NGOs for the “promotion of the rule of law, constitutionalism and democracy.”
Opposition MDC-T leader, Mr Douglas Mwonzora said the country should make use of laws such as the Political Parties Finance Act to stop foreigners from funding political activism through NGOs. He said:
Our position is that there must be minimal interference with the work of civil society organisations, they provide the necessary checks and balances on possible government excesses. But we have laws such as the Political Parties Finance Act, which proscribes foreign funding and that has to be used.
MDC Alliance was stripped of rights to the funding provided under the Political Parties Finance Act it was “entitled” to following the 2018 elections.
The funds are being received by the MDC-T which was declared the legitimate beneficiary by a 2019 Supreme Court ruling on the MDC leadership wrangle.
MDC Alliance has allegedly been getting funding from members, wellwishers and some Western states to fund its operations.
Meanwhile, ZANU PF’s chief whip Mr Pupurai Togarepi said the ruling party will swiftly pass the Bill into law to close the door on delinquent activities in the NGOs.
Government has in the past accused NGOs of abandoning their mandates by pursuing a political agenda in support of regime change.
More: The Herald