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NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
urged not to cut foreign funding
September 08, 2004
HARARE - Representatives
of rights groups, veterans' associations and students urged a parliamentary
committee in Zimbabwe to scrap proposed legislation barring international
rights groups and cutting foreign funding to local groups.
The bill, which
has yet to be presented to parliament, was condemned as "unconstitutional",
"retrogressive", "satanic", "draconian"
a lawmaker who heads the parliamentary committee examining the the
draft law, said the bill was likely to be presented before the end
of the year.
Once it comes
up and is debated, it is expected to be enacted into law as President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party enjoys a comfortable majority in parliament.
The head of
a rights organisation called Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Brian
Kagoro, said "the bill is totally in contradiction with government
does not comply with the constitution of Zimbabwe ... (and) goes
beyond the dictates of human rights in that it seeks to criminalise
criticism of government," said Kagoro.
suggests that it is criminal to defend or to support human rights,"
advocacy group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said
the timing of the bill, just months before crucial legislative elections
in March, would adversely affect NGOs preparations for the
polls and also flew in the face of the regional electoral reform
charter which Zimbabwe assented to in August.
into law, all NGOs would have to register afresh, a process they
fear could take a long time.
is actually an obstacle to full political participation of the electorate,
in next March's polls," said ZESN.
of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an alliance of civic
and political groups said the aim of the bill is to "stifle
democracy and entrench dictatorship".
of the bill, if passed, will be too ghastly to contemplate,"
said Kuromba Munodawafa of the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform, a grouping
of veterans of the country's war of independence.
He said millions
of people that benefit from NGO work will be deprived while the
number of unemployed will swell as many of the organisations might
be shut if their foreign aid is cut off.
of the Rural Information Project said rights groups would perish
without foreign funding because "in Zimbabwe we don't have
a culture of donating to NGOs".
representative, Pilane Zamchiya said the proposed law is "a
satanic legislation whose place should be hell".
for us to adopt this bill would be suicidal," he said.
Bar Association has also attacked the bill saying it is "in
flagrant violation of international and regional human rights standards
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