Wondering why there has been so much talk about why the PVO Amendment Bill is retrogressive? ZimRights’ latest publication contextualises the Bill and how it negatively affects active citizenship. Read on to get a clearer picture.
On 5 November 2021, the Government Gazette published the long-awaited Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill which seeks to amend the current PVO Bill. ?e Bill, as has been alluded to by many experts, is bad for the country. It violates several fundamental freedoms. As both a common law universitas and as a registered PVO, ZimRights is concerned about the impact of the proposed law on the enjoyment of fundamental rights. As such, on 24 December 2021, representatives from ZimRights’ 11 provincial chapters converged for a reflective meeting, looking at the implications of the bill on the work of ZimRights. What emerged from the reflective meeting is that active citizenship is under siege in Zimbabwe. Members noted that attacks against civil society did not start with the PVO Bill. The PVO Bill is merely an explicit documentation of the hostility against NGOs that dates back to the Mugabe era.
Background to the PVO Bill
In recent times, issues of civic space have become topical in Zimbabwe and the African region at large, on account of the overt moves to shrink the space. Of concern in Zimbabwe is the current Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill, and other factors affecting the operations of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Zimbabwe. Over the years, we have learnt that when issues of civic space are mentioned, many think of big national organisations and yet none of these would be able to operate effectively without the ground almost invisible operations of grassroots and community based organisations (CBOs). In times where civic space is threatened it is important for the grassroots movements to push back on shrinking civic space, claim active agency, and sustain their operations in the face of hostility.
Why Civic Space Matters
Civic space is that space where ordinary citizens come together to defend the values that they care about. It is the space which citizens have to organise, outside the spaces controlled by the State. This is where accountability is exacted and where social movements form. Civic space is that space where ordinary citizens come together to defend the values that they care about. It is the space which citizens have to organise, outside the spaces controlled by the State. This is where accountability is exacted and where social movements form. Civil society is thus a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity. It is the lifeblood of our democracy. When the people of Siakobvu are abandoned by their own government and defrauded by traditional leaders, they have the right to create their own space and defend their livelihoods. They do not need permission to do so. It is the right to life. ?e right to human dignity that is at stake.
Read the full report here (2MB PDF)