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This article participates on the following special index pages:
NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
Bill: Government negotiation in bad faith
Liberators Platform (ZLP)
given notice of amendments to the controversial NGO Bill. One of
the points of contention of the Bill is the definition of the "issues
In his amendment,
the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare says "issues
of governance" means:
- issues stipulated
in the first generation rights as contained in the International
Covenance on Civil and Political Rights and also spelt out under
the African Charter Article 2-23;
aimed at public transparency and accountability;
public support for an understanding on anti-corruption programmes;
and facilitating the interests or activities of a political party.
obviously be justified if it stopped any NGO from furthering and
facilitating the interests or activities of a political party. However,
in the case of (a), (b) and (c) above, a government which is the
product of the liberation struggle should embrace activities aimed
at public transparency and accountability, as well as strengthening
public support for an understanding on anti-corruption programmes,
because it has nothing to hide, hence the establishment of an anti-corruption
And what is
wrong with raising rights issues as contained in international and
African conventions to which government is a signatory?
the issue of governance, the Minister ignored the other fundamental
matters such as the composition of the NGO Council; registration;
foreign funding; and transitional mechanism.
The other seven
amendments made by the Minister are of no consequence at all.
It should be
noted that government and NANGO have been negotiating since 2002.
NGOs have since then accepted the principle of regulation but preferred
When the Bill
was gazetted recently, the parliamentary portfolio committee on
the ministry of public service, labour and social welfare held a
public hearing for stakeholders. NGOs made presentations on the
negative socio-economic and humanitarian implications of the Bill.
committee submitted a positive report to parliament on their findings.
A workshop involving
ZANU PF and MDC Members of Parliament as well as NGO representatives
was held in Nyanga in September to discuss the Bill. They came up
with positive recommendations which were forwarded to the relevant
were made to various senior ZANU PF and government officials who
appeared to be receptive and sensitive to the concerns of the NGO
government has still not made fundamental changes to the Bill. Therefore,
government has been negotiating in bad faith while the NGOs were
Platform (ZLP) would like to remind government that if they passed
the Bill without fundamental amendments, the country’s food security
would be threatened, as about 2.2 million people who need food aid
might not get it.
Not only that,
the tourism sector would be affected further, since tourism earnings
fell from US$770 million in 1999 to US$77 million in 2002.
- Foreign currency
inflows associated with NGOs would almost dry up. This would be
a huge loss to the nation.
- Up to 25
000 people employed by NGOs would lose their jobs and income.
Those breadwinners presently support at least 100 000 people.
sufferers’ and orphans’ survival would be threatened.
assistance for people with disabilities would be heavily reduced
- Various sectors
of the economy and public institutions would get a serious knock.
They include agriculture, transport, infrastructure, commerce,
industry, Zimra, research and tertiary institutions, communal
isolation would increase when the country should actually be building
would benefit from the above scenario. The only option would be
to make fundamental amendments to the Bill so that when it came
for the second reading, it would have incorporated inputs from the
NGOs and other stakeholders. ZLP believes that at this point in
the country’s history, dialogue, compromise, trust, political commitment
and tolerance would deliver the nation from the current socio-economic
and political crisis.
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