By Vumani Mthiyane
GWANDA residents have rejected the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill, during a parliamentary public hearing held at Gwanda hotel.
Former Gwanda Mayor and ward 7 by-election candidate, Jastone Mazhale said the bill is unconstitutional.
“We might say whatever, but the button line is that this is unconstitutional. The 2013 constitution promotes democracy, promotes plurality and private players to participate. If a bill gives the Minister sweeping powers, that bill is not only primitive but undemocratic and counterproductive.
This bill cancels all the gains which were brought about the new constitution. NGOs are critical players who promote the country in all aspects of development. They play a humanitarian role and a watchdog role for checks and balances. Accepting this bill will be like taking us back to stone age. I therefore totally reject this bill,” quipped the former mayor Mazhale.
A woman with a disability who benefited from Mkomwa Foundation Trust (an NGO) said the bill infringes her constitutional right.
“I am a disabled person who has never benefited from a government programme.The crutch I am using as a walking aid is from Mkomwa Foundation Trust. Besides the same government which is fully behind this bill has failed to educate our children through the Basic Education Assistance Module BEAM yet NGOs took their responsibility,” she said.
Thembilihle Phiri from Ward 14 in Sengezane village said most of the developmental and humanitarian work is being done by NGOs.
“I am rejecting this bill as well because when I grew up, boreholes were far away from our homesteads but not they are at our doorsteps because of the NGOs,” said Phiri.
Zanu PF Central Committee member, Cephas Sebata was of a different opinion.
“Some of the NGOs are totally against the government and are likely to promote terrorism if this bill is not enacted into law. This is an important bill that brings discipline to NGOs,” said Sebata.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare is currently holding country-wide public consultations on the controversial PVO Bill.
The bill, which has been criticised by civic society organisations (CSOs) seeks to further tighten the regulation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) by the government.