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  • NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis

  • NGO Bill will hit hard vulnerable groups, parliamentary committee told
    September 08, 2004

    HARARE - HIV/AIDS, church and student organisations yesterday told a parliamentary committee that a proposed law to regulate Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Zimbabwe could see humanitarian assistance to the country drying up.

    The groups told Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare that banning foreign assistance to NGOs as proposed under the new law will only help cut aid to the most vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe.

    The committee is hearing submissions on the NGO Bill that is expected to be passed into law when Parliament resumes next month.

    Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) president Philina Zamchiya said: "A number of students are beneficiaries of foreign assistance through scholarships and sponsorships, the NGO Bill will close avenues of aid."

    Zamchiya told the committee that he had himself benefited when an NGO operating in Zimbabwe helped raise money from foreign donors to pay for treatment of injuries he incurred when he was tortured by state security agents.

    The Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference (ZNPC), which is a grouping of religious ministers from various denominations, said the Bill will further reduce democratic space in Zimbabwe.

    "We strongly advocate for a fundamental revision of the Bill, which should be influenced by the understanding of democracy and civil society reflected in the newly adopted SADC election guidelines," said the ZNPC official.

    The committee will take submissions by various stakeholders to Parliament for consideration when it reviews the controversial draft Bill.

    Under the Bill, civic groups will be required to register with a government-appointed commission. NGOs will be barred from receiving money from foreign donors to fund work related to human rights and governance issues.

    Civic activists say the Bill could force more than 90 percent of NGOs in the country to close down.

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