Activist petitions Parliament to reconvene PVO Bill public hearings

Environmental and human rights activist Farai Maguwu has petitioned Parliament to reconvene public hearings on the controversial Public Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

Maguwu, director of the Center for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), alleges that the original hearings, held at the Ambassador Hotel in Harare, were disrupted by a rowdy group, forcing the committee to abandon the proceedings.

The PVO Amendment Bill (H. B. 2, 2024) was gazetted in March 2024 to amend the Private Voluntary Organisations Act (Chapter 17:05). 

Among other issues, the PVO Amendment Bill aims to bring the existing PVO Act into line with Recommendation Eight, made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to prevent money laundering and terrorist financiers from abusing PVOs for illicit activities. 

He said due to the incident, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) had to be called in to come and restore order at the venue, and as a result, he (Maguwu) and other members of the public could not get an opportunity to submit their contributions at the hearing. 

This type of conduct is not new to the hearings on the PVO Bill, as similar incidents were reported in Bulawayo in May 2022 when the committee held its public consultations (read 

In his letter, which was delivered to the Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, through Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Maguwu highlighted that the same disruptions had been reported at similar meetings in  Chinhoyi, Gweru and Masvingo. 

“Meetings convened in Harare, Chinhoyi, Gweru and Masvingo were violently disrupted by some rowdy people, some whom, were visibly intoxicated who jeered, sang & disrupted the proceedings such that he together with other members of the public who attended the meetings, could not participate and give their contributions during the consultations,” Maguwu stated. 

“The situation quickly escalated and degenerated to such an extent that legislators, who were part of the portfolio committee and the thematic committee, fled from the venue resulting in the meeting ending abruptly before any public views could be solicited & recorded while ZRP had to be called to intervene to restore order & ensure the safety of people. 

Maguwu said through reconvening the public hearings, the parliament would be fulfilling its duty of ensuring that members of the public are involved in parliamentary processes and are consulted about Bills as provided in section 139(3) of the Constitution. 

He further requested that there be investigations into the disruptions of the hearings and to stop any further parliamentary processes relating to the piece of legislation, including but not limited to the second and third reading stages. 

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