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  • NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis

  • Zanu PF suspends constitution to fast track NGO Bill
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    November 19, 2004

    On Tuesday November the 16th, ZANU PF suspended the country’s constitution to fast track the Non Governmental Organisations bill - Zimbabwe’s most repressive piece of legislation since independence in 1980. The NGO bill, which is expected to be passed into law before December 1 seeks to criminalise the promotion and protection of human rights in Zimbabwe.

    The proposed laws are part of the tools that Robert Mugabe has used to crash the rights and freedoms of Zimbabweans. The NGO bill is the latest and most fatal attack on democracy and joins the class of the undertaker’s tools that include the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is deeply perturbed by the continued closure of democratic space in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s shut down of the NGO’s complemented by the establishment of the dependent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission asserts ZANU PF’s commitment to the establishment of a de facto one party state. What displays Mugabe’s hunger for power and disregard for the people’s welfare is his flagrant disregard of the virtues of the liberation struggle and his sacrifice of more than two million people’s welfare by closing the NGOs. NGO’s have made immense contribution to Zimbabwe’s reconstruction and development. Their specific roles in complementing government in times of national disasters such as hunger and droughts, high incidences of HIV and Aids and citizen education cannot be overemphasized.

    It is the Coalition’s view that tyranny remains tyranny whether done in the name of security, sovereignty or power. Between the years 1983 and 1987, Mugabe killed more than 20 000 Zimbabweans of the Ndebele tribe in the name of national security and guarding the nation’s independence. The idea that what is good for ZANU PF is good for the nation is patently false and inherently undemocratic. After the 2000 loss of the constitutional referendum, Mugabe’s militia have killed more than 200 people and displaced thousands. The closure of the NGOs is one such assault in the name of state security. Plurality of ideas is a fundamental gain of our independence. It must be jealously guarded. It is this feature that qualifies Mugabe as a dictator and ruling by the barrel of a gun rather than the will of the people.

    The provisions of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles and guidelines for free and fair elections are a ray of hope to Zimbabwe’s governance crisis. It was the Coalitions view that, ZANU PF, as the party in government would begin to implement the dictates of the SADC protocol by repealing unjust laws such as POSA, AIPPA and withdrawal of the NGO bill.

    Even though, more than 3,000 private voluntary organizations and trusts, including Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, are on the line of fire, reopening of democratic space remains a top priority. The socio-economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe will not be solved by a one party state, but by progressive dialogue among all Zimbabweans. A nation of enemies will remain incapable of feeding its people adequately and addressing the economic slump, abject poverty, record child mortality rates, mass unemployment, an unbridled HIV/Aids pandemic and a host of other socio-economic difficulties.

    Zimbabweans’ right to choose their own leaders must be ensured and protected through the adoption of the SADC principles and guidelines for democratic elections as part of domestic law. Majority rule was one reason for Zimbabwe ’s liberation struggle and as such, ZANU PF has an obligation to maintain the gain for which many people suffered. Common sense and patriotism requires that the extremely high premium placed on power politics be reduced to enable the nation to seek collective solutions to national interests.

    Unjust laws passed in the middle of the night through parliament remain unjust. To legalise a one party state remains undemocratic if done against the will of the people. It was lawful for Hitler to kill and yet it was unjust. It could be "lawful" for Mugabe to close NGOs and torment the spirits of the people of Zimbabwe but it remains unjust and undemocratic.

    Slurs, verbal abuse, violence and intimidation may win arguments, but they can never reconstitute, heal or rehabilitate societies. NGOs may be closed, elections may be rigged, newspapers may be bombed and millions starved, but it will never kill the people’s love for liberty.

    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition is a non-governmental organization fighting for human rights and good governance in Zimbabwe.

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