Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
NGO Legislation signals the dearth of rights based activism
Fambai Ngirande, NANGO
November 24, 2004
the adverse report on the NGO Bill from the Parliamentary Legal Committee
NGO Legislation follows after the media and electoral laws as another
state instrument to further constrict the operating environment for civil
society institutions. It is the final death knell for the existence of
a free and vibrant Civil Society in Zimbabwe. The legislation is a lamentable
event of macro-economic proportions, indicative of the state's determination
to maintain a stranglehold on the political economy. Through the new NGO
Legislation the state seeks to outlaw human rights, electoral and governance
activism, absurdly considering such activism to be a security threat After
the promulgation of this legislation it will be illegal for people to
get organised in order to contest any infringements on their human (social,
cultural, political, economic and civil) rights.
As part of a diabolical election strategy the formulation of the Legislation
negated the principles of consultation and participation, taking no cognisance
of NGO demands for an equitable, transparent and democratic legislation.
As a result the legislation far from creating an enabling framework for
widespread and unrestrained participation in the socio-economic and political
development of the nation, conversely takes away individual and group
rights to engage in activities that promote development. By restricting
Civil Society operations to a particular set of activities the government
is essentially contravening the peoples Right to Development. Rights based
programming, which pursues people's rights to shelter, food, treatment
and such like, inform virtually all Civil Society activities. In this
way all Civil Society Institutions are involved in human rights work and
thus at risk of closure through the new legislation.
The Legislation goes against the fact of the indivisibility of human rights
and welfarist / humanitarian activities as an interrelated, interdependent
complex. Contrary to the Legislation there cannot be a separation between
civil and political rights on the one hand and social and economic rights
on the other as both sets are definitive elements of human development.
According to International Treaties different sets of rights should be
treated equally and the state abrogates this principle by outlawing activities
by its citizens to advocate for their civil and political rights. This
is in spite of the country's poor human rights and democratic record.
In essence the legislation okays humanitarian and welfarist work presumably
because it does not question the state's hegemony but outlaws activities
aimed at promoting and protecting civil and political rights because they
infringe on the political field which government seeks to maintain as
its exclusive territory. There have been state media reports to the effect
that NGO s cannot engage in political activities. In this way the state
has labelled human rights, electoral and governance based activities as
political and therefore outside Civil Society's mandate, thus compromising
Civil Society's mandate to promote development. Beyond a doubt the new
Legislation is inimical to the advancement of human development and must
by all means be resisted.
the NANGO fact
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.