PVO Bill will be signed into law: Charamba

The Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) will be signed into law despite spirited efforts by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other stakeholders both in Zimbabwe and abroad for the government to ditch it, President Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba has said.

Responding to an article penned by NewsDay titled “Reject PVOs Bill, UN urges ED’ Charamba on his Twitter platform under the username @Tinoedzazvimwe1 confirmed that the Bill would be signed into law.

This comes after five UN experts, through a communique released Monday, urged President Mnangagwa to ditch the Bill which they said would severely restrict civic space and the right to freedom of association in the country.

The experts, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. 

The bill provides for disproportionate and discretionary powers to the newly established Office of the Registrar of PVOs, without independence from the executive branch.

The Senate passed the bill on 1 February 2023, and it now awaits presidential assent for it to enacted into the country’s statutes.

“The Registrar’s Office powers will include the ability to consider, grant or reject the registration of PVOs, with little to no judicial recourse against such decisions. The bill’s requirements would also immediately render existing organisations, operating lawfully as trusts and associations, illegal,” the experts said.

In response, Charamba said the submission by the UN experts did not represent the views of the entire intergovernmental organisation.

“Special Rapporteurs report to respective relevant arms of the UN, the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly in this case, after a fact-finding visit to member countries of the United Nations. Their reports must incorporate views of State Parties; they don’t just voice their personal opinions in the name of the UN, and ahead of tabling fact-based findings to relevant arms of UN,” said Charamba.

“This requires basic on-line checks, which the routinely misleading NewsDay has no time for. None of the quoted rapporteurs visited Zimbabwe to engage Govt on the PVO Bill which the President will sign, in spite of their extra-mandate noises, and lame editorial support of the useless NewsDay! It is behaviours like these on part of adjunctive or associational figures of UN which puts UN agencies into disrepute, including being kicked out of African countries, as happened a few days ago in East and West Africa!#PVOBILLWILLBECOMELAW

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