PVO Bill must be enacted: Mnangagwa

The Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Bill is set to be enacted in the First Session of the Tenth Parliament, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said, highlighting it as one of the laws that must be concluded.

President Mnangagwa made these remarks during his State of the Nation Address (SONA), which he delivered on Tuesday during the opening of Parliament.

When the PVO Bill was first introduced, members of civil society and analysts expressed concern that it would stifle the operating environment because it imposes ‘unfair’ restrictions on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) by proposing harsh penalties, including jail time of up to one year for NGO Registration framework-related perceived offenses.

While the government claims one of the stated aims of the PVO Bill is to counter terrorism and money laundering in Zimbabwe, analysts have said the restrictions contained therein will have a chilling effect on civil society organisations – particularly dissenting voices and effectively close an already shrinking civic space.

Despite these concerns, President Mnangagwa’s administration is intent on passing the PVO Bill as law as he said it must be concluded in the First Session of the Tenth Parliament.

“The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, Medical Services Amendment Bill; Insurance Bill and the Private Voluntary Organisation Bill, which were outstanding from the Ninth Parliament, must be concluded during the first session of this parliament,” Mnangagwa said.

“Obsolete laws such as the Frederick Clayton Trust Act, the Service of Documents Act, Settled Estates Leasing Act and the War Marriages Validation Act should be repealed under the Repeal of Laws (General Amendment) Bill.”

President Mnangagwa also listed news bills which will have to be prioritised during the first session.

“New Bills which will constitute the business of the First Session include the Persons with Disabilities Bill and the Administration of Estates Amendment Bill. The Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to streamline the registration process for foreign legal practitioners. Also on the agenda will be the Inheritance and Succession Laws (General Amendment) Bill, 2023, which aligns inheritance and succession laws to the Constitution and international best practice,” he said.

“To give impetus to matters related to climate change adaptation and resilience, the Tenth Parliament is called upon to review the Water Act; the Zimbabwe National Water Authority Act and the Plant Breeders Act. The much-anticipated Climate Change Bill seeking to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and facilitate low carbon development technologies should be thoroughly debated towards strengthening appropriate institutions and funding mechanisms.”

He said the Parks and Wildlife Act is being amended whilst a Human Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund is being set up to offer monetary benefits to victims of human wildlife conflict in communities.

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