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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Government suspension of NGO field operations - Index of articles
relating to the legal status of the notice issued by N.T.Goche (MP)
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
June 06, 2008
for Human Rights (ZLHR) has had the opportunity to scrutinize the
issued by N. T. Goche (MP) on 4 June 2008 addressed to "All
Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs)/Non-Governmental Organizations
(NGOs)". The Notice reads as follows:
"It has come to my attention that a number of NGOs involved
in humanitarian operations are breaching the terms and conditions
of their registration as enshrined in the Private
Voluntary Organizations Act [Chapter 17:05], as well as the
provisions of the Code of Procedures for the Registration and operations
of Non Governmental Organizations in Zimbabwe (General Notice 99
As the Regulatory
Authority, before proceeding with the provision of Section (10),
Subsection ( c ), of the Private Voluntary (sic) Act [Chapter 17:05],
I hereby instruct all PVOs/NGOs to suspend all field operation until
The Notice is
not addressed to any particular organization/s and is signed by
Hon N T Goche (MP), purportedly in his capacity as the Minister
of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. It appears, although
vague, to be directed towards humanitarian PVOs/NGOs, ostensibly
those registered under the Private Voluntary Organizations Act.
ZLHR takes the
following preliminary position on the legality of the Notice:
- There is
no provision in the Private Voluntary Organizations Act ("the
Act") which empowers the Minister to suspend PVOs or NGOs.
The only provision in the Act which empowers the Minister to suspend
was section 21, which provided for the suspension of the Executive
Committees of PVOs registered under the Act in the event that
the Minister had it on good authority that the said PVO was acting
ultra vires. Section 21 was struck down by the Constitutional
Court of Zimbabwe in the case of Holland & Ors vs Min of Public
Service, Labour & Social Welfare 1997 (1) ZLR 186 (S) as being
at odds with section 18 (9) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (which
stipulates that everyone is entitled to protection of the law).
To date nothing has been done to reverse the findings of the Constitutional
Court and as such Section 21 in its entirety remains void for
that Mr. Goche is trying to use the said section nonetheless,
he still falls foul of its provisions as the Notice is of a general
nature and has not been directed to the Executive Committee of
a named PVO as is required by the Act. The Notice is further defective
as it ought to have taken the form of a Notice in the Government
Gazette as that is the requirement of the law.
- Section 21
aside, the Section 10(1)(c) which he then purports to threaten
to invoke is of no assistance to him, as the power to cancel or
amend certificates of registration envisaged therein is the sole
preserve of the PVO Board established in terms of Section 3 of
the PVO Act. It follows therefore that the Minister, though he
appoints the board in terms of the Act, has no power (directly
or inferred) to act in such a manner or take such action.
there is a further dispute as regards the powers that Mr. Goche
has to take any action as the purported Minister of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare. It is a matter of public record that
the pre-29 March 2008 Cabinet (and Ministers) was dissolved and
they have not been properly and lawfully re-constituted. This
argument is currently before the Constitutional Court in the matter
of Jonathan Nathaniel Moyo vs The President of Zimbabwe and Minister
of Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs and Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, where the MP-elect is challenging the purported powers
of the Minister of Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs,
and a similar argument can potentially be raised in respect of
the case at hand.
- It is therefore
submitted with respect that this Notice is a legal nullity.
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