Vendors in Bulawayo have tasked some Members of the Parliament (MPs) to reconsider the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill which they feel will worsen the plight of residents who are already suffering.
This came out during a post public hearing community- feedback meeting held, Thursday, by Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) in partnership with Vendors Initiative for Socio-Economic Transformation (VISET).
The meeting brought together MPs, civic society organisations (CSOs) and informal traders to deliberate on the PVO Bill and how it impacts citizens’ rights.
Speaking during the meeting, a participant said there is a high rate of unemployment in the country and that should be the focus instead of the PVO Bill.
“To the honourable, you have to look at where we are as a country right now before even looking at this PVO Bill because I think this is the least of our problems as a country. Let us look at the rate of unemployment in Zimbabwe, it is very high,” said the participant.
She said people’s livelihoods are going to be affected hence the need to look at the cost of passing the PVO Amendment Bill.
“What happens to the people who are working in the civic society? It means they won’t be working so people’s livelihoods are going to be affected.”
Sukoluhle Mhlanga also said persons with disability benefit from NGOs assistance.
“If we take a look at the constitution, Section 83, states that the government shall do whatever for the people with disability within the limits of its resources. You find that as persons with disabilities we don’t have a stand-alone ministry like the ministry of youths, ministry of women. Yes we appreciate that there is a disability desk but you find that since they are stating that within the limits of their resources, are we going to have assistive devices,” said Mhlanga.
“As PWDs we have been relying on civic society for assistive devices and economic empowerment.”
Mhlanga added: “At the end of the day the government does not compliment [the civic society because at some point the Auditor’s General’s Report had to say money that was meant for PWDs was transferred to other administrative costs.”
In addition, Pretty Mpofu highlighted that there was already partisan tension between residents.
“There are some residents in our communities who are getting assistance from the government just because they belong to a certain political party and have a certain card. There are also those who are being segregated, those are the ones who are really benefiting from the NGOs,” said Mpofu.
She said if NGOs are affected, even the MPs suffer.
“This bill is affecting three groups of people, NGOs, the community, and the MPs who are staying in communities,” said Mpofu.
Another vendor added that if NGOs were to be eliminated, some children would not be able to attend school.
“We have so many dropouts and the NGOs are helping with those dropouts to go back to school,” said the vendor.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo proportional representation MP, Jasmine Toffa said as a representative of the people she was going to take all recommendations made by the people.
“I think there is a need to look at this bill as Parliament and see whether it is going to benefit the people because we represent the people and the government is for the people and they have to look at the issues that affect the people not to worsen the poverty amongst the people,” said Toffa.
“Zimbabweans are suffering, there are no jobs, and coming up with this bill will worsen the situation,” she said.