Ahead of the scheduled public hearings on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill, which seeks to amend the Private Voluntary Organisations Act, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) states that it is opposed to the passage of this bill primarily on the grounds that its provisions are an assault on personal freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013.
The bill is ostensibly premised on complying with recommendations made by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) on money laundering and terrorist funding, streamlining administrative procedures and regulation of PVOs and preventing PVOs from political lobbying.
In all the instances given, the bill will give inordinate amounts of latitude to the Minister in determinations of what may be deemed to be violations or those that are suspected of potential breach to face sanction without so much as being favoured with a hearing, something which flies in the face of Section 68 that guarantees any persons a right to administrative justice.
The proposed amendment is a further attack on guaranteed freedoms such as the right to freedom of association under Section 58, where the bill seeks to curtail the ability of PVOs to fundraise for their activities. PVOs and in particular VISET by the nature of its activities within communities has always upheld the principle of political neutrality as its members belong to different political parties and as part of our outreach maxim we believe ‘development knows no political affiliation’.
As an organisation, it is our belief that the current national constitution provides sufficient safeguards against the three main provisions that the bill seeks to address and we will be participating along with our membership to ensure that PVOs are granted the space and environmental conditions to reach and impact positively towards a prosperous Zimbabwe for all through working with communities, traditional leadership, government officials and elected officials in development.