AMNESTY International (AI) Zimbabwe has called on authorities to withdraw the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment (PVOs) Bill to allow for more public consultations.
The Bill is currently at the Final Reading Stage in the National Assembly, but AI warned that it would further stifle civic space as well as hinder access to humanitarian support if passed into law in its current form.
“The proposed PVOs Bill will restrict civic space and access to humanitarian support services in Zimbabwe. We call for the withdrawal of the Bill and the initiation of a comprehensive process of fresh consultations to be held with the public and CSOs,” AI said in a statement.
The Bill seeks to regulate operations of civic society groups.
It gives powers to Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister to register and deregister non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Some of the contentious clauses include provisions that stipulate compulsory registration of NGOs and ministerial powers to interfere with their governance structures and criminalisation of “political support.”
The Bill proposed harsh penalties on errant CSOs.
But critics have red-flagged the proposed law as an attempt to cow civic groups into silence for exposing corruption and human rights violations.
Government gazetted the PVOs Amendment Bill in 2021, and has defended it as necessary in line with the Financial Action Task Force recommendations on money laundering and terrorism financing.