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NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
urged to ditch NGOs Bill
Dongozi, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
of the controversial Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Bill
into law could be a death knell for the starving Zimbabwean masses
as the country faces what could be one of the most devastating droughts
in living memory, analysts have warned.
The NGO Bill was passed by Parliament on 9 December 2004 and only
awaits President Robert Mugabe's signature to become law.
the Constitution, the President has 21 days within which to sign
the Bill to become law but the 21 days have since lapsed.
If and when
it becomes law, it will bar NGOs from receiving foreign funding
for governance programmes.
of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana, whose
ministry was instrumental in crafting the NGOs Bill, confirmed the
Bill had been presented to Mugabe but could not give the date.
"The Bill was
sent to the President some time ago but I cannot remember when because
right now we have been campaigning and I have not been to my office."
law expert, Lovemore Madhuku, said the Bill would lapse after 21
days of being presented to the President.
"If the President
does not sign it into law, it simply means that the Bill ceases
to exist," Madhuku said.
NGOs argue that
the rights to access food, the rights of the disabled and the right
to access HIV/AIDS treatment should not be classified as governance
for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary for lands and agriculture,
Renson Gasela, said many villagers were starving, especially in
the rural areas."Only an insensitive government would come up with
laws that would condemn its people to go through hardships especially
"The twin evils
of hunger and HIV/AIDS are a very destructive force. The effect
of HIV/AIDS will be more devastating if people suffer from hunger
which could be made worse by the signing of the NGO Bill," said
said with the drought ravaging the countryside and a Zanu PF majority
in Parliament, Mugabe might choose to appease the international
community by not signing the Bill into law.
the Research and Advocacy Officer for the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) said they had petitioned
President Robert Mugabe not to sign the Bill into law.
we appeal to you not to give assent to the NGO Bill because of its
devastating effects on ordinary citizens, the economy and the country.
"All the work
that NGOs do is human rights work whether its access to water, land,
information, education, treatment or promoting the rights of people
with disabilities or living with HIV and AIDS," reads part of the
says the signing into law of the Bill would have a negative impact
on the Zimbabwean economy.
"Some of our
members have already lost some of their funding as a result of the
Bill. This will result in the reduction in foreign aid and foreign
currency in-flows into the country.
"It is our conviction,
as NGOs that given the current socio-economic situation in the country,
where 70-80 percent of the population is surviving below the poverty
datum line and unemployment hovering between 60-80 percent, where
over one million children are orphans and where 25 percent of the
population is infected by HIV/AIDS, the NGO sector is a safety net,"
reads part of the petition.
because of the uncertainty on whether the Bill would be signed into
law, international donors were withholding funding while programmes
like the anti-HIV/AIDS fight were collapsing.
boss, Shingi Munyeza, has already raised alarm bells about the possible
outlawing of NGOs, saying about 60 percent of hotel business was
being provided by NGOs after tourists stopped visiting the country
because of lawlessness.
General of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)
and chairman of the National Council of the Disabled Persons of
Zimbabwe (NCDPZ), Alexander Phiri, described the NGO Bill as an
anti-Disability piece of legislation.
"Based on the
government's inability to feed the people because it is bankrupt,
I think it will need to come up with a magic formula to feed the
"If that Bill
is signed into law, it would be a death sentence for Zimbabweans
as that would mean the drying up of funds to support disability,
HIV, orphans and other programmes that support vulnerable groups."
He said if signed
into law, programmes designed to help disabled people would be affected.
Phiri said the
disability movement depended a lot on the international community,
churches and philanthropists and they faced harsh times if the Bill
was signed into law.
"For a poor
country like ours to claim that we can rely on our own resources
is a complete fallacy. I would like to appeal to the President to
rise above emotion and be guided by good reason," Phiri said.
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