The Matabeleland Forum has raised concern that the disruptions of the public hearings on the proposed Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Amendment Bill will deter some citizens from freely expressing their opinions.
Matabeleland Forum is a network of Civic society and church organizations in the Southern region of Zimbabwe.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Services, Labour, and Social Welfare is currently holding country-wide public consultations on the controversial PVO Bill.
The bill seeks to further tighten the regulations of the non-governmental organizations by the government.
In Bulawayo, the public consultations were held yesterday at Selbourne Hotel and Emakhandeni Hall.
The public consultations were characterized by chaos and disorder as some rowdy elements disrupted the smooth flow of the meetings leading to the meeting in Emakhandeni being curt short despite the fact that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee had arrived late for the meeting.
The rowdy elements who first attended the morning meeting at Selborne hotel before proceeding to Emakhandeni Hall were booing residents who spoke against the enactment of the bill and they were cheering those who supported the bill.
“Matabeleland Forum is concerned about the escalating politically motivated violence that is accompanying by-election campaigns and public hearings of the proposed PVO Bill. Disruptions of the proposed PVO Act Parliamentary hearings have left lives of many citizens under threat as they seek to contribute to policies,” the consortium said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Forum also condemned the escalating political motivated violence ahead of the March 26 by-elections.
“Forty-two years after independence, despite a constitution that promotes freedom of association and political choice, they still witness the murder and physical injury meted out to those who hold different political allegiance to the ruling party. The police allege that perpetrators of the weekend violence in Kwekwe are supporters of ZANU PF. In the past 42 years, most election-related violence has invariably been blamed on the ruling party. This country needs to break with the past in order for its citizens to enjoy the freedoms provided in the constitution,” they said.
The Forum said they are concerned about the use of inflammatory language that is inciting violence against other opponents.
“We call upon Vice President Chiwenga to retract his statement that he issued a few days before the Kwekwe Rally violence that he will “crush the opposition like lice. We call upon President Mnangagwa to publicly state that Zimbabweans are free to vote for a party of their choice,” said Matabeleland Forum.
They called on all political parties to desist from any language that might be construed as encouraging hatred or intolerance of opposing views.
“Our people need peace, jobs, health facilities, clean water, and education for their children. They do not need brutalization. We therefore unreservedly call for political parties concerned to take responsibility for their actions and put in place mechanisms to arrest election-related violence ahead of the by-elections,” said Matabeleland Forum.